CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Lieberman Announces 2004 Presidential Bid
Aired January 13, 2003 - 10:12 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR; And now to Stanford, Connecticut, where the next big moment in the political career of Joseph Lieberman is about to take place.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: ... madam president, Samantha. Thank you, Mr. Principal, Carmine Lamone (ph) who graduated from Stanford High School in the class of 1961, perhaps the second greatest class in Stanford High School history.
I want to make clear to those who are not familiar with Stanford High School, that when Samantha referred to me as a knight, that was not the office I'm running for. This school, we are known as the Black Knights of Stanford High.
Anyway, I thank you three and all of you, my classmates who are here to my left, my family to my right, for the warm welcome, and in your case for the generous introduction you've given me.
You have to be me to know how much this means to me. I wanted very much to come back home to Stanford to make this announcement today, because it was here that I came to appreciate the miracle of America. It was here that my parents, Henry and Marsha, themselves children of immigrants, worked their way into America's middle class, and gave my sisters and me the opportunities they never had. It was here that I first understood the power of the promise of America, that no matter who you are or where you start, if you work hard, and play by the rules, you can go as far in this country as your God-given talents will take you.
Someday, you might even grow up to have a chance to run for president of the United States.
Let me say that when I was growing up and going to school right here, we called that promise the American Dream. It defined our freedom, our opportunity, and our strengths. It set us apart as a nation from the rest of the world, but it brought us together as a people around our shared belief in an ever-brighter future for our country.
Today, unfortunately, that American Dream is in jeopardy, threatened by hateful terrorists and tyrants from abroad, and a weak economy that makes it harder for people to live a better life here at home.
For too many Americans, the middle class of which I've spoken is drifting out of reach. In fact, over the past two years, 2.8 million Americans have lost their job and 1.3 million have fallen into poverty instead of rising to the middle class. That's unacceptable.
But it doesn't have to remain that way or get worse. I am confident that we, as a nation, have what it takes to meet these challenges and renew the American Dream. We can and must make it as real for those of you who are students here today as it was for me and my generation.
But that will only happen if our leaders are ready to lead, willing to fight for what's right for the American people, and able to rise above partisan politics and put our country first.
We must rise above partisan politics and put our country first to fix our economy and restore economic growth, because a strong middle class means a strong America. We must rise above partisan politics and unite to defeat the threat of terrorism, make America safe again. We must never shrink from using American power to defend our security and our ideals against evil in a time of war and we must never forget on use the power of our ideals as a force for good in the quest for peace.
We must rise above partisan politics to heal the racial divide, not open old wounds, and to give a new generation of immigrants their fair chance to live the American Dream. We must rise above politics and restore independence to the White House, not compromise our economic or environmental, or health security for political contributors or extreme ideologues.
We must rise above partisan politics and stand up for our values here at home, because family, and faith and responsibility matter more than power, and partisanship and privilege.
My friends, two years ago, we were promised a better America, but that promise has not been kept, so today, I am ready to put our country first to fight for what's right for the American people. I'm ready to protect their security, to revive their economy, and to uphold their values.
Yes, I am ready to announce today that I am a candidate for president of the United States in 2004.
And I intend to win! (APPLAUSE)
Thank you. There's nothing like a hometown crowd, is there?
This morning, I will be filing the necessary papers to form a campaign committee, and then I'll begin working to earn the support of the American people. In the coming months, I want to convince them that I have the strength, the values and the vision to lead our nation to a higher and safer ground.
I want to talk with them also about the tough fights that I have waged before. As a young man I marched with Dr. King and then went to Mississippi to fight for the right of African-Americans to vote. As my state's attorney general, I stood with single moms to go after deadbeat dads, and fought against oil companies that were trying to gouge consumers, and corporate polluters who were spoiling our air and our water.
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I have consistently supported a strong defense, our men and women in uniform, and the use of our mighty American military to protect our security and defend our values in the Gulf War, in Bosnia, in Kosovo, and now again in Iraq.
As a father, and dear classmates, I must say now as a grandfather, I have taken on the entertainment industry for peddling violence and sex to our children. I've spoken up for parents who feel they're in competition with the popular culture to raise their children, and give them the right values.
And as the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000, I was proud to join with Al Gore in a great fight for America's families and their futures. And I'm also proud to say that in that election, as you may remember, Al and I got a half million more votes than our opponents, and even got more votes than any Democratic ticket in the history of the United States.
Campaigns are about the future, and in this campaign, I will talk about the tough fights ahead, strengthening homeland security, while protecting Social Security, making affordable health care available to every American, fixing our failing schools, and restoring fiscal responsibility and economic opportunity, with the kinds of sensible tax cuts and sound investments that will bring back the prosperity of the Clinton/Gore years.
I intend to talk straight to the American people and to show them that I'm a different kind of Democrat. I will not hesitate to tell my friends when I think they're wrong and to tell my opponents when I think they're right.
I know that this will be a long and sometimes difficult journey begun today across America for my family and me. We look forward to it with excitement and optimism. Some mornings when I wake up, I may not know exactly where I am, but I promise you this -- I will also know who I am and what I stand for.
And everyday along the way, I will feel blessed by God to live in a land where dreams can come true. And everyday, I will remember what President Kennedy told my generation, which is that here on Earth, God's work must truly be our own.
So dear friends here at home, at Stanford High School, and my fellow citizens across America, I ask you to join with me in doing the urgent work of securing the hope of a better tomorrow for our beloved country. Let us begin here, let us begin now, and let us begin together.
Thank you! Thank you.
HARRIS: And now it is official, Senator Joseph Lieberman has now thrown his hat in the ring, as you see there at the bottom of the screen. He has said he will make it official and announced he will be a candidate for the office of president of the United States. He's we're expecting that he's going to be taking questions from some of the students assembled there. That's why we're waiting around to see if that will happen. He's walking back towards the podium, and here he goes.
LIEBERMAN: I want to thank everybody, and say a personal word of thanks, obviously, to my family, who is such a source of strength to me. To my mother, 88 years old, my mom, Marsha.
Mom sets the standard. I'll tell you, my most favorite recent story about mom, on the night that Al Gore announced he wasn't running again, which surprised us certainly in its timing and the decision, my staff and I got on a conference call and we all agreed, we're not going to say anything tonight, it's Al's night, so don't answer any of the media inquiries, and we'll do it tomorrow. At about 11:00 that night, I called mom, and she said, how are you doing? She said, it's been a very exciting day, I've done six or seven media interviews.
And to my beloved Hadassah, no one could have a better, more devoted partner to our children, to our siblings, to the extended family who is there. God bless you, and thank you.
These young people to our left and a few out there are my classmates from the class of 1960.
This one here, I had a big crush on her in fourth grade. And where is Vita. I want you to meet -- Vita and Alex, come on out. Vita and Alex are the ones that always organized the class. She did most of the work.
But I'm pursuing a dream here today with high ambitions, but once earlier in my life, Vita and I -- well, we had pretty good titles. I think it was our sophomore year of the prom, she was the queen, and I was the king. But Alex married Vita.
Anyway, it's great to be home, thank you. Thank you, all.
I'll be glad to take some questions now, for a while. Maybe we'll start with the students if you've got a few, and then we'll go to the press.
Anybody have any?
Yes, good morning.
QUESTION: In reference to the rising costs a college education, a four-year degree at Yale University will cost $34,030 a year, including room and board. That is $136,101 for four years. What do you plan to do about the rising costs of a college education, and how do you plan to ensure that each student who wants a college education can afford college?
LIEBERMAN: Great question. And the question is for those that didn't hear it, I'll make it short, what do I plan to do about the rising cost of a college education? That relates right back to two parts of what I said in my statement and why I'm running for president. The first is to make the American dream real again, and what's the way it became real? It's with education.
If I didn't have the great education that I've had in the Stanford school system. I see two of my teachers, here, looking good, looking strong, was very young when he taught me.
I didn't have that education and the opportunity to go college, I would never have the chance to go to all the things in my life. So to make the American dream real, we've got to make college affordable.
Secondly, if you ask most people in business this country, what's the best thing we could do to help the economy and help their businesses, they usually don't say give me a tax break, although sometimes they like that, and sometime they're a good idea, they usually say give me an educated workforce, because we're in a knowledge age, and it's education that will make the economy grow.
Right now, college education is priced out of the reach of a lot of kids, and I'm going to give a major speech on this in a couple of weeks, but let me give you a hint of it. One, is I have supported now for a couple of years a tax deduction of up to $10,000 a year for the cost of a college education for your parents and yourself, and that's really for middle-class families that are worried about meeting the cost of higher education for their kids. The second is to increase the Pell Grants which go to lower- income American students. The president has either cut those back or increased those in a miserly way over the last couple of year. We ought to shoot them up close to at least $6,000 a year. Again, that's the best investment we can make.
And I have a host other ideas, to make sure we not only get all our children in a college who can go, but that we make sure we keep them there. So I take this as a priority for me in the coming campaign.
Thanks for that question.
Anybody else? Yes?
QUESTION: Now that you're the sole candidate as opposed to in 2000 when you ran with Al Gore, how will your campaign differ, or what will remain the same?
LIEBERMAN: You may be ask be tougher questions than the professional media will.
Well, there's no question that when you join a campaign as a vice presidential candidate, it's a campaign that's move and one of the things you do is do everything can you to support the presidential candidate, and I was proud to do that in 2000.
This is different because you form your own campaign, although on a lot of the issues, the things that Al and I talked about for economic growth, and for educational opportunity, for environmental protection, you will see some echoes of that in this campaign as well.
But, you know, this is -- one of the highlights of the 2000 campaign was that -- my wife doesn't think it was one of the highlights, I got to sing on "Conan O'Brien's" show "My Way," and this gives me an opportunity to do it my way.
Yes? Go ahead, and then we'll to you.
QUESTION: Good morning.
LIEBERMAN: Good morning.
QUESTION: My name is Greg Hothkin (ph), and I'm a senior here at Stanford High, and I'd like to ask you what you think about President George Bush's new economic plan. LIEBERMAN: The new economic plan, the so-called stimulus plan for the economy, is not that.
And let me see if I can do this quickly, because I could go on for a long time. Our economy is down, as I said in my remarks, people are losing jobs. Last year the median income, that is the average middle-class income, dropped for the first time in 10 years, and again, I want to say 1.3 million people fell out of the middle class into poverty.
I think any fiscal stimulus plan has to give business a reason to invest and grow, because that's really what's stopping our economy. One of the best ways to do that, too, is to put money in the pockets of consumers so they can spend, and the third is to restore confidence in our markets which was -- and our businesses, which was broken so by the Enron scandal and all that followed.
President Bush's plan doesn't do any of those. It spans $674 billion over 10 years, 360-some odd billion for a dividend tax cut that nobody thinks is going to stimulate the economy, probably will be rejected even by Republicans, and in the end put America further into debt.
We're probably going to run a debt of over $250 billion this fiscal year. You can't keep doing that and keep America strong.
And most of the president's fiscal stimulus plan is not actually spent in this year when we need it to be spent. I've put one forward, about $150 billion, some for business, some for consumers, some for education, and almost all of it would be spent in this year. That's the difference between the president and my economic recovery plans.
Thank you. One more student question, and then we'll go to the media.
QUESTION; Good morning, Senator Lieberman. My name is Jess Rose (ph), and I'm also a senior at Stanford High, and I was wondering what your major difference is with President Bush and the Republican Party?
LIEBERMAN: Well, this is a story that will be told as the campaign goes on, but I think what's happened is that the American Dream has been put in jeopardy over the last two years, and it's all about the ability of people to find -- to work their way up into America's middle class, which is the miracle of our country, and this president, I'm afraid, promised to come to Washington to change the tone, and the reality is that the place is more partisan and polarized than ever.
And the fact that I mentioned in my remarks that too many of the president's policies are either driven by extreme ideologues in the administration or major financial interest. And the country doesn't benefit from the poor economic record, from the failure to fund education reform, from the inability to do anything to improve our health care system, and from the slowness with which the president has responded to the threat to Americans here at home from terrorism.
So this is a story that will be told over the coming year, but I try to summarize it in what I said today, which is that this is -- these are not ordinary time for our country, and therefore, those of us who seek its highest office or hold it cannot practice ordinary politics. We've got to put partisan politics aside and put our country first. We've got to fight for what's right for America and our people.
Yes, let's go back to the pros.
QUESTION: Senator, will you verify your position on vouchers for public schools? We're here in a public school
LIEBERMAN: Yes, I'll do this one, and then I'll come to yours.
I do. I'm going to work harder, but I believe both in my service in the Senate and even in the presidential campaign, I can serve the state of Connecticut, as well as I've always felt a responsibility to do so in the now almost three decades that I've had that honor in one office or another.
Question over here?
QUESTION: Could you clarify your position on school vouchers? We're here in a public school. There has been some controversy about your statements on this.
LIEBERMAN: Let me see if I can do this clearly and briefly. America's hope is in the improvement of its public schools. America's hope, thank you, America's hope and the renewal of the American dream depend on us not just getting together and passing the no-child left behind act, as we did last year, but in putting money in it to help schools like those in Stanford, which President Bush has not done.
But I must say that while we are going about that task, that goal, to improve all our public schools, there are children in America, poor children, who are trapped in schools that are not properly educating them, whose parents can not afford to put them in another school, who, I think, can use what I call student scholarships to help them get a better education.
And I've supported these programs, and I'll do this real briefly, with a few conditions. One is that those eligible have to be below the poverty level. Two, the money to support those -- these are demonstration test programs. Two, that the money for them can't come out of existing public school budgets. And three, that they go for a limited period of time, and then we evaluate them. We seem how did the kids do at the schools they went too, what was the effect on the public schools they left? And what have we learned, which will help us achieve our national goal of giving first-rate education, world class to all of our children.
Yes, Tom? QUESTION: Senator, back in 1960, JFK felt that he had to address the religious issue, his Catholicism, and take it head on. Do you feel 40 years later that you will have to do the same thing?
LIEBERMAN: Well, times have changed. i read a book a while back about Al Smith's candidacy for president in 1928, the first Roman Catholic to run for president. Some of the bigotry, overt, hateful bigotry that he faced, it's hard to believe that it happened in the last century in America. When Senator Kennedy ran in 1960, he didn't face that kind of bigotry, but he faced some questions, and he answered them.
I will tell you, from my experience as a candidate for vice president in 1960 -- excuse me, in 2000.
That was the president of the class here at Stanford High School they ran for in 1960, and I experienced no bigotry at all from my class. And I learned about the fairness and openness of the American people.
So in 2000, no questions asked, no bigotry expressed. So I begin this campaign happy to answer questions, but with the confidence frankly that the American people are too smart and too aware of how tough the times the are to judge a candidate for president on anything other than his or her record, ability, and ideas and values for America's future.
QUESTION: ... cut into the capital gains tax, follow up on the student's earlier question, and aren't you afraid that some of your positions are a bit too conservative for the Democratic primary voter, and are you going to have to change your position for the primary and change it back during the final...
LIEBERMAN: No. I not only once supported a capital gains tax cut to try to get money -- investing money into business, to help the businesses grow so they could hire more people, but my fiscal stimulus plan right now has a zero capital gains money provision for money that puts into new businesses as a way to try to get some things going.
So I'm not against capital gain tax cuts; I just think the dividend tax cut that the president offered, while an interesting idea, maybe theoretically an idea I could support, it just didn't doesn't do anything to get us out of the rut our economy is in today.
And on the second broader question mark, you know, I've come too far, I feel too fortunate to have this opportunity to run for the highest office in this nation that I love so much to change anything about me. I'm going to be myself, and I think that's not only the only way I can do it -- I want to look back, however this ends, and say I was true to myself. As I said, I may get up sometimes and not be sure where I am, but I'm never going to be in doubt of who I am and what I stand for. QUESTION: What sets you apart from the other Democratic opponents?
LIEBERMAN: What sets me apart from the other Democratic opponents? Well, we've begun a campaign, and the campaign is going to be a discussion. And I'm going to leave it to you and even the voters to decide who among the Democratic candidates, and then who -- and then to compare us with President Bush, can best lead this country.
I think my record, the priorities that I've expressed today, the values that I've tried to bring to politics in public service, my whole life story give you the idea what kind of president I would be.
QUESTION: Senator, you may face a major topic of conversation when you ran in 2000. Do you anticipate invoking your faith in the same way, and how do you think the American people will respond?
LIEBERMAN: Well, you know, I'm not running on my faith, but the fact is that my fact is that the center of who I am, and I'm not going to, you know, conceal that. I'm running because of the ideas that I have for our nation's future and how to make it better, how to renew the American Dream, how to protect the people's security, how to revive our economy.
But I'll not hesitate to talk about faith when it's relevant, or to invoke God's name when it comes naturally out of me, because I think that's what America is about.
Remember, what it says right at beginning of the Declaration of Independence, that those rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that distinguish and define America, that I stand here before you as a beneficiary of, the founders of our country said, they weren't given to us by the politicians or even the philosophers; they were, as the Declaration of Independence says, the endowment of our creator. So I think if the spirit moves me occasionally to say a word or two of faith, I think it's a very American thing to do.
QUESTION: ... considering the role that Israel and the Middle East situation in America...
LIEBERMAN: Well, again, I've got a record here, it's a record that has always, as I've said in my remarks, put America first, and you know, I'm going to leave it to the people of this country to decide. Of course, there's strong bipartisan support in Congress and throughout our country, I think, for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
Somebody had a question back there.
QUESTION: Do you plan to ask for Al Gore's support during the primary process, and do you expect to get it if you do?
LIEBERMAN: In fact, I've already asked for it. But I told Al I didn't expect him to get involved soon. We were close friends, and we remain close friends, and I would be honored by his support, but I've got to earn it, as I have to earn the support of every American.
Well, I mean, I think in the words that were spoken here, I think that the campaign will show as we go on what that means, but I try to make clear in the statement, I have a strong record on national security and defense. In the last couple of years, I've had a very strong record of leadership in Congress on homeland security. I embrace a very different approach to the economy than President Bush does, and then some of the Democrats do, because I understand that as my late friend and classmate at law school, Paul Tsongas used to say, you can't be pro jobs and anti-business, because most of the jobs are going to come from business, and I'm also not hesitant to talk about values, because I think we've let the Republicans act as if they have a monopoly on values, when we as Democrats, and our positions on education, environmental protection, civil rights, human rights, civil liberties, are embracing values, a sense of right and wrong. But this is a story that will be told as the campaign goes on.
QUESTION: Senator, how, if at all, do you differ from President Bush on handling Iraq?
LIEBERMAN: Let me go back a bit and say very briefly that I felt from the end of the Gulf War that the U.S. made a mistake in not going to Baghdad and taking out Saddam Hussein while his military remained in disarray. I felt that throughout the '90s as the U.N. inspectors worked to find and destroy the inventory of chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam had. In 1998, when the inspectors were ejected, Bob Kerrey and John McCain and I put in a bill called the Iraq Liberation Act, which said, we can't trust this man, if we don't stop him, we're going to regret it, because he's going to do damage to us and some of our allies in the region, particularly in the Persian Gulf.
That bill, incidentally, would have been authorized support for Iraqi opposition to Saddam. Never was funded very well until the last couple of months.
I'm grateful that President Bush has focused on Iraq, and I think he's done it in Saddam for the same reason that a lot of Americans are taking a different look at world after September 11th.
We look back now and say, we wish we had done more to stop Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda before they struck at us. And I think that's the lens through which we now look at Saddam.
So by and large, I could disagree with one or another nuance of the president's policy toward Iraq, but basically, as was clear in the congressional debate when I cosponsored the resolution of support, I support what the president has done. I think this is one of the times when you do have to rise above partisanship and put your country's security first.
And right now, there was some uneasy news out of the manager last week which seemed to raise some questions about whether or not President bush was going to stay the course with regard to Saddam? In the last day or two, they have been reassuring affirmations that he is, and I will support him so long as that is so.
QUESTION: Has the bush administration mishandled the North Korea situation? And if so, how would you have handled it differently?
LIEBERMAN: Respectfully, I do believe that the Bush administration has mishandled the situation on the Korean peninsula and in North Korea.
Look, the problem is North Korea, and a very unpredictable dictatorial regime headed by Kim Jong-Il. But as clear and consistent as the Bush administration's policy has been with regard to Iraq, it has not been clear and consistent with regard to North Korea.
At the same time, the president took both the option of negotiating and the military option off the table with regard to North Korea. The last time in my knowledge of American history that the military option was taken off the table with regard to North Korea was when Dean Acheson did it prior to the Korean War. And the result, our refusal -- we're a great nation. I mean, the president has been at times for sanction and then not, taken the military option off the table, and then put it back on.
Now seems to be back focused on negotiations, and the possibilities there, and I think that's the right way to go. We don't lose anything by negotiating with them. The fact -- and now, I was very upset that over the weekend, somebody in the Bush administration seems to be blaming the Clinton administration's 1994 agreement with North Korea for the current problem.
Well, if that agreement had not been entered into, the North Koreans, by experts I've talked to, would have at least 20 nuclear weapons, and maybe 30, and the world certainly would not have been a more safe and secure place, so you know it's a shame when the North Koreans have to go to Santa Fe to talk to Governor Bill Richardson to open up a dialogue. They ought to be going to Washington to talk to Secretary Powell and see if we can work this out. If we can't, we have to reserve all our options.
I thank you all very much. It's been a great day. Onto victory!
HARRIS: What started out as an announcement for candidacy for the presidency of the United States turned into a wide-ranging press conference, as we heard there. But it is now official: Senator Joseph Lieberman has now said that he is going to enter the race for the presidency in 2004, announcing his candidacy today, and he did it at his old high school in Stamford, Connecticut.
The students there seem to be rather well educated. The students asked questions at least as good as the reporters who were assembled there in the room. One of those reporters, our Candy Crowley, who is going to be joining us in just a moment -- but we heard here plenty of references to the case of the middle class in this country. Senator Lieberman saying that throughout the coming months of the campaign, we'll be learning more about the story of his life and how important it is to maintain and establish and shore up the middle class, saying that thousands -- millions, rather have dropped out of the middle class in the last two years, and he laid the blame for that at the foot of the Bush administration.
He says that he has got a better economic plan, he's got firm plans for security for the country, as well as other plans of his to get more kids in school and keeping them in school.
And he actually had quite a few things he said that really framed out a rather forward looking vision, but he also did make a subtle reference to the past 2000 campaign in there as well, a little dig in that regard.
Let's check in now with our Judy Woodruff, who was standing by in Washington. She has been listening, along with our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider as well -- Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Leon. I think you have to say we saw too that trademark Joe Lieberman sense of humor. He, at several points, poked a little fun at himself, and the other thing you would have to say is that those high school students you mentioned -- they do ask questions, sometimes, just as tough as those of us in the national media like to think that we're capable of asking.
I do want to bring Bill Schneider in here. Bill, we heard Joe Lieberman say I'm a different kind of Democrat. He's clearly referring to the fact he comes out of the centrist tradition of the party. But what does that mean in terms of his candidacy?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it means that he is positioning himself as someone who could win, could beat George Bush if you assume the country has moved to the right, that Bush was elected president, that Americans are pretty happy with Bush. On a number of issues that he outlined, he takes a fairly moderate position. He supports a test program involving school vouchers, whereas most Democrats oppose anything like that.
He wants a capital gains tax cut which a lot of Democrats say would be a giveaway to the wealthy. He says my faith is going to be at the center of who I am.
Well, the issue of faith and religion has generally been co-opted by Republicans. He says he's going to run on the values issue, something where a lot of Democrats, liberals, often feel defensive.
So he's presenting himself as a moderate Democrat. It is likely to be a strong position against the Republicans, but what will happen in the Democratic primaries, we don't know.
WOODRUFF: That is right, and we hear about his views, but what about those Democratic primaries? Our Candy Crowley is there in the room where Joe Lieberman made the big announcement.
Candy, what about the hard politics of this? You've already got four Democrats declared. Some of them are already in a good position in those early primary states, Iowa and New Hampshire. What about Lieberman?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you are right, and I will tell you that -- you know, when you look at Iowa and you think, maybe that goes to Richard Gephardt from neighboring Missouri, you look at New Hampshire and think, well, John Kerry from neighboring Massachusetts or Howard Dean from Vermont, and then you look at South Carolina, which is next to North Carolina where John Edwards is.
The Lieberman people look at that and say, so we get to South Carolina, it may still be a toss-up. When you ask them, well, who's the Lieberman voter in a primary, they say, Well, everybody else. If Gephardt has the Union vote, if John Kerry has veterans, Lieberman has everybody else. So they are looking to put together sort of a coalition cherry pick, if you will off of there, but their biggest problem is going to be that primary voters do tend to be more left of center than the general population of the Democrats, so he is going to have to walk a very careful line, and that is why you heard so many questions here today about, Well, what about school vouchers, and what about taxes, whether he can sell that and it looks as though what he's going to do is sell his sellability, and that is, I can beat George Bush in the general election, rather than looking in the primary to go up idea to idea against his opponents.
WOODRUFF: That's right, Candy. And, Bill, both of you mentioned where Lieberman fits with regard to the traditional Democratic base. He has not been considered the closest Democrat to labor, to the liberals in the party, to minorities in the party. He is going to have to work to reestablish or establish his bona fides with these groups.
So some extent, we saw that with the Homeland Security debate, where Lieberman sort of moved on labor's side when they were discussing what the president's options should be with the new department.
SCHNEIDER: But he has one thing that he has going for him, and it is very noticeable in the polls, and it was a bit of a surprise. The Clinton-Gore supporters. Even though he is a moderate, centrist Democrat, as Clinton fashioned himself, the fact is Clinton is seen by a lot of voters as sort of a liberal.
Well, the fact is the people who liked Al Gore and Bill Clinton like Joe Lieberman. Lieberman is so far the first choice among African-American Democrats, because he is the -- he carries the Clinton tradition from Clinton to Gore to Lieberman. If there is a base for him in the primaries, it would be the Al Gore voters.
WOODRUFF: Well, maybe some name recognition there too. Well, speaking of these other candidates, Bill, let's talk about who's already declared. In fact, we can remind everybody with a list of who these Democrats are. We have got several of them, four of them, in fact, have already announced that they are going to form exploratory committees.
SCHNEIDER: That is right. Three of them are senators. John Kerry of Massachusetts, John Edwards of North Carolina, and now Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. Richard Gephardt, Dick Gephardt, who is a former leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, those are all Washington candidates. One governor, Democratic governor from Vermont, a non-Washington candidate, he has also said he is going to form an exploratory committee.
WOODRUFF: And it isn't often that senators we know, at least in this century, have been elected directly to the presidency. There have only been two of them. And just quickly, Bill, some other Democratic names who are considered likely or possible.
SCHNEIDER: Possible, two more senators, Bob Graham and Joe Biden has been talking about it a little bit, the senator from Delaware. Gary Hart, a former senator who first ran for president almost 20 years ago in 1984, and ran again in 1988, and was associated with a scandal that year, and one civil rights activist from New York, the reverend Al Sharpton never held political office, well known in the African-American community.
WOODRUFF: And we also know that -- quickly -- two other names are thinking about it. Joe Lieberman's senior senator from the state of Connecticut, Senator Chris Dodd, and also General Wesley Clark, the former NATO Commander, has been saying that he has given it some thought.
So Leon, no shortage of Democrats who are at least thinking about taking on President Bush.
HARRIS: And we might need scorecards fairly soon if this keeps up, see who is left in the House or in the Senate when it's all over with. Thanks, Judy.
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