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JewishJournal.com

January 30, 2008

Lieberman riding McCain’s coattails

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/lieberman_riding_mccains_coattails/

Such hyperbole should not be a surprise; in November he compared John Hagee to Moses. And, yeah, Joe Lieberman is a fan of Republican leading man John McCain. But does he really think the Arizona senator is “part Maccabean?”

Lieberman is certainly a good judge, given his own history with unexpected success - including his decision to endorse McCain last December, before McCain’s campaign had fully rebounded from a near-collapse last summer.

Since then, Lieberman has been one of McCain’s most prominent promoters, lending help by soliciting donations from Connecticut contacts and actively stumping on the campaign trail. Now, after a stretch that has seen wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, McCain seems to have bounded to the top of the Republican field and, in the process, catapulted one of America’s most famous Jewish politicians back onto the national stage.

According to observers, Lieberman’s support has been unusually helpful to McCain, giving him a boost with independent voters who contributed to his wins in South Carolina and New Hampshire. In Florida, Lieberman helped give the Arizona senator an edge by turning out Jews, as well as Cuban Americans, in the southern part of the state.

But the real surprise may be yet to come. According to a Lieberman aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity, if McCain wins the nomination, Lieberman is also likely to play a growing role in shoring up what at first blush would not seem to be one of his core constituencies: Christian evangelicals.

“He’s one of those unique campaign surrogates who can travel both in the Jewish community and the Christian community, as well,” the aide said. “I would suspect that as the campaign goes further, Senator Lieberman will probably be active on that front, as well.”

So active, in fact, that speculation has already begun that Lieberman, possibly uninterested in running for a fifth Senate term in 2012, might be rewarded for his support with another shot at the vice presidency, or a Cabinet post in a future McCain administration.

In an interview with the Forward, Lieberman said his decision to support McCain was based on their longstanding relationship and on their history of cooperation on a range of issues, including intervention in Bosnia, action on global warming, the creation of the 9/11 Commission and continued military involvement in Iraq.

“Look, we have been drawn together because we have similar worldviews,” Lieberman told the Forward, adding that they both have the “feeling America has a unique role in the world, of taking the Declaration of Independence seriously. It’s a universal declaration of human rights, and our foreign policy is always better when it’s based on democratic values.”

With Rudy Giuliani planning on dropping out of the race and endorsing McCain, I expect Lieberman’s man will consolidate the Republican Jewish vote, which, until now had been strongest for Giuliani. I don’t, however, anticipate Lieberman being rewarded with this.

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