Stamford, Conn.–It surprised me, all right, but quite a few of the Connecticut Republicans I spoke to at the annual Prescott Bush Awards Dinner (June 27th) would not have a problem with "Independent Democrat" Joe Lieberman as Republican John McCain’s vice presidential running mate.
The only ones who dismissed the scenario of McCain being the first Republican Presidential nominee since Abraham Lincoln in 1864 to select a Democratic running mate (Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, who had broken with fellow Southern Democrats over secession) were those who consider themselves committed conservatives.
"Would I mind Joe Lieberman on McCain’s ticket?" former State GOP Chairman Frederick K. Biebel told me before the dinner at the Stamford Sheraton Hotel, "No, not at all. It would be a very bold move." Biebel, who also served as deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee in the 1980s’ and this year will be attending his 14th national convention since 1956, reminded me that many Republicans abandoned their own Senate nominee in 2006 to help re-elect Lieberman after he was dumped by Democrats in favor of an anti-war candidate. Lieberman won his fourth term on an independent line that year.
Another former state chairman, George Gallo, volunteered that "a McCain-Lieberman ticket would be great–good for Connecticut, certainly. Joe Lieberman fits the Connecticut profile of moderate to conservative. I would be ecstatic about him joining John McCain’s ticket." As for differences with the Republican platform on issues such as abortion, Gallo said that the independent senator’s diffferences on some planks in the platform "wouldn’t be a problem."
"It sure would be interesting," Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele said of a McCain-Lieberman ticket, adding that "I like Joe Lieberman."
State Rep. Al Adinolfi of Chesire insisted that Lieberman is "closer to Republicans" now. When I asked him to elaborate, Adinolfi replied: "He’s supporting McCain, isn’t he?" Adinolfi believes Lieberman on a national ticket would "help Republican office-holders win re-election and help elect more Republicans."
But others with a background more grounded in conservatism were not so enamored. As Biebel was expatiating on Lieberman’s virtues, Republican National Committeewoman and longtime HUMAN EVENTS subscriber Patricia Longo was shaking her head.
"No," she said when I asked if she could accept the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee as the Republican vice presidential nominee in ’08, "Lieberman is a liberal on everything except Iraq. He may have won as an independent and supported McCain, but he’s still a liberal." Longo, who is closely following HUMAN EVENTS’ "Veepstakes" features likes the two South Carolinians we’ve featured: Gov. Mark Sanford ("I love Mark Sanford!", she exclaimed) and Sen. Jim DeMint.
State Party Chairman Chris Healy, whose mother Lila recalled to me how he got a black eye for wearing a Goldwater button to grammar school, said of McCain choosing his state’s junior senator: "I don’t see that happening. Lieberman doesn’t really help the ticket in New York or New Jersey and the only things he’s good on are supporting the commander-in-chief in a time of war and school vouchers."
CONCLUSION: When you talk about Joe Lieberman at a Republican gathering, you will find support for him because of his Iraq stance and, because of that, general forgiveness for his liberal votes on other issues. As for supporting him for vice president, well, at a gathering of Connecticut Republicans, it all depends on who you talk to.