Campaign Confidential

Bill Clinton, Obama Want Joe Lieberman to Stay With Democrats

By Brett Lieberman

After not only supporting John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, but criticizing the Democratic presidential nominee, U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman is fighting for his job as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. And Democrats must decide whether they want him to caucus with them.

While they have enough votes to remain in the majority regardless of Lieberman, they still need the senator from Connecticut because they’re shy of the 60 votes needed to cut of filibusters.

Lieberman has told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he does not want to relinquish his chairmanship, which plenty of Democrats want to take away from him as punishment.

Lieberman was re-elected as an Independent after losing the Democratic primary to Ned Lamont, but continued caucusing with Democrats.

Now comes word that Lieberman may have some influential party leaders want Lieberman to keep caucusing with Democrats.

Talking Point Memo’s Josh Marshall reports that former President Bill Clinton is making calls on Lieberman’s behalf, and The Huffington Post reports that President-elect Barack Obama, who Lieberman campaigned against, also wants him to remain in the caucus.


Rabbis Get the Call From McCain

By Brett Lieberman

Republican presidential nominee John McCain plans to host a conference call with Jewish leaders across the country Sunday morning.

The so-called tele-town hall meeting with Jewish leaders, McCain’s second such call since August, will include the participation of U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman. The independent Democrat who has been campaigning for the Republican ticket in battleground states, will introduce McCain, a longtime friend.

Issues important to the Jewish community such as Israel and national security are expected to be discussed as well as the economy. Participants are expected to be able to ask questions.

The 10:30 a.m. call is expected to include representatives from groups like Chabad-Lubavitch, Agudath Israel, Orthodox Union, Young Israel, in addition to Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis, according to McCain’s campaign.

Jewish leaders representing groups under the umbrella of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations will also participate.

The call will allow Senator McCain to have a dialogue with Jewish leaders and discuss issues critical to the Jewish community such as Israel, national security and the economy. In traditional town-hall fashion, there will be a question-and-answer session with Senator McCain.

McCain held a similar call with Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis from 47 states in late August.


'Independent' Lieberman on the Synagogue Tour for McCain

By Brett Lieberman

Campaigning as a “Democrat who was re-elected as independent now here to support a Republican for president,” U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman told Jewish voters in southeastern Pennsylvania that he remains convinced that Republican John McCain is the best candidate to lead the country even as the focus of the election has shifted from national security to financial security.

“All days but particularly now country matters more than party, that’s the bottom line,” Lieberman told about 50 Jewish voters at Temple Beth Hillel in Wynnewood Friday morning.

He later spoke to about 70 retirees at B’rith Shalom House in Philadelphia and then about 120 mostly politically conservative Jews at Congregation Shaare Shamayim.

While mostly receptive audiences, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee faced skeptical and sometimes outwardly hostile questioning about McCain’s selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Lieberman responded that the election is about deciding whether Barack Obama or McCain will be president. Based on his own interactions with Palin and others he’s spoken with, Lieberman described her as a pragmatic and realistic leader who understands everybody does not share all of her ideological views. Lieberman, for one, said he disagrees with many of her social views.


McCain, Obama Allies Hope to Reassure Jewish Buckeyes

By Brett Lieberman

Ohio’s Jewish community is getting lots of love from presidential surrogates this Columbus Day weekend.

U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the independent Connecticut Democrat and 2000 vice presidential nominee, is meeting with Jewish communal leaders over breakfast this morning outside of Cleveland to emphasize his belief that Republican John McCain is the bettered prepared candidate to be president.

Lieberman addressed about 200 McCain volunteers at a campaign call center northeast of Cleveland on Sunday.

Not far away at the Landerhaven banquet hall, which Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher called the epicenter of Ohio Jewish politics and at least for a short while the presidential campaign, former Middle East peace negotiator Dennis Ross was joined by Sen. Carl Levin, Rep. Jane Harman and Alan Solow, a prominent member of Chicago’s Jewish community, to reassure Jewish voters that Democrat Barack Obama is a strong friend of Israel and the Jewish community.

While Ross, Levin and Harman emphasized Obama’s commitment and understanding of the importance of Israel and nominating good candidates to the Supreme Court, it was Solow, chairman of Jewish Community Centers Association of North America but the least known of the group, who offered the best line of the night: “I like to say he’s going to be the first Jewish president of the United States.”

Solow, who met Obama in 2003 and traveled with the Illinois senator to Israel in 2006, said that Obama “gets (Israel) in his bones. He has it in his kishkes,” he said, using the Yiddish word for guts.


'Bagels With Joe' in Pennsylvania

By Brett Lieberman

U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Connecticut, returns to Pennsylvania Friday to plug Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin in the Jewish community.

Here’s his itinerary:

Temple Beth Hillel at 10 a.m. 1001 Remington Rd. Wynnewood, PA 19096

B’rith Shalom House at 11:15 a.m. 3939 Conshohocken Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19131

Congregation Shaare Shamayim at 1:45 p.m. 9768 Verree Road Philadelphia, PA 19096


Lieberman Predicts Record Jewish Vote for Republicans

By Brett Lieberman

Republicans will garner more support from the Jewish community than at any time since the Great Depression – surpassing the 39 percent of the Jewish vote that Ronald Reagan won in 1980, U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., is predicting.

The 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee who was on Republican John McCain’s shortlist for this year’s GOP ticket, made the prediction during a recent rally with Republican candidates in suburban Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent reports.


States to Watch: PA, FL, OH, VA, CO

By Brett Lieberman

Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida – all key traditional presidential battlegrounds and all traditional battlegrounds for the Jewish vote will likely be critical once again in this year’s contest between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.

Two other states to watch though will be Virginia, where 1.3 percent of the population is Jewish, and Colorado, where 1.7 percent of the population is Jewish, Matt Berger of MSNBC/National Journal predicted on a conference call organized by the United Jewish Communities to discuss the election.

Critical to the election will be what Berger called the “Lieberman Democrats,” those voters like Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Connecticut, who place a premium on security issues. They may be wary of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s lack of experience, he said.

Younger Jewish voters, who are trending conservative in their votes and more open to supporting Republicans, are another critical demographic.

Finally, “Schlepers,” the elderly vote in Florida will be critical as usual in that state, Berger said. Many of these traditionally Democratic voters supported President Bush in 2004 and are looking for a reason to vote for Obama. Yet they remain hesitant to support him.

“They want a reason to vote Democratic and they are wary about Obama,” Berger said. “They need to be convinced that it is OK to vote Obama.” Jewish Democratic leaders have predicted that Obama will do as well or better than 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry did. But Berger was skeptical that Obama will draw the 75 percent of Jewish support that exit polls showed voted for Kerry.


Biden to Headline Jewish Democrats' Conference

By Brett Lieberman

U.S. Senator Joseph Biden, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, is expected to headline the National Jewish Democratic Council’s upcoming Washington conference, which is focused on mobilizing the Jewish vote, NJDC officials said.

Democrats hope that Biden of Delaware will be able to counter some of the influence that Senator Joseph Lieberman has had among Jewish voters in crucial battleground states including Florida. Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate, has been an enormous asset for Republican John McCain, reassuring voters about his support for Israel among other issues as well as raise doubts about Democrat Barack Obama’s experience.

NJDC’s September 23-24 program at the Washington Hilton includes sessions on handicapping the 2008 elections, how new media changes the way voters can be reached, and common issues facing the Jewish and African American communities.

The time and date of Biden’s address has not been set. Other unconfirmed invited speakers include former Vice President Al Gore, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Obama.


Bagels, Lox and Barack

By Brett Lieberman

Supporters of Barack Obama readily acknowledge a lingering reluctance among many Jewish voters to embrace the presumptive nominee. The campaign has recently stepped up its outreach to Jewish voters and the Jewish community at large, including naming long-time adviser Daniel Shapiro to a formal role in the Obama campaign.

Jewish and political leaders say the effort to win over voters has proven particularly difficult in South Florida.

But could the solution to Obama’s problem be as simple as noshing on a bagel and lox?

Maybe, says U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who has been tapped by the Obama campaign to speak with Jewish leadership councils in Florida and addressed the Denver-area council over the weekend.

“He just has a learning curve with our voters, which he’s going to rapidly close when we bring him down and take him around for some bagels and cream cheese in the condos,” Wasserman Schultz said Sunday during a National Jewish Democratic Council reception outside the Golda Meir House in Denver.

Senior citizens and South Floridians are beginning to embrace Obama because they understand that beyond the issue of Israel Republican John McCain is not in sync with Jewish voters on domestic and social issues, she contends.

Other Jewish leaders, though, say the Obama campaign’s outreach efforts have been hampered because most of the Illinois senator’s Jewish surrogates are more liberal or progressive.

“He needs a Joe Lieberman type,” said Rabbi Marc Schneier, referring to the Connecticut Democratic senator turned Independent who has been supporting McCain. Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic nominee for vice president, remains a popular figure with many Conservative and Orthodox Jews.

Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and a past president of the North American Board of Rabbis, says it’s critical for Obama to have more conservative surrogates if he is going to be able to acquire wider support within the Jewish community.

“You cannot ignore those and the standing of the orthodox Jewish community,” he said.


The John and Joe Show: Lieberman Campaigns for McCain, But Says He’s Not Interested in No. 2 Spot

By Daniel Treiman

John McCain and Joe Lieberman have been keeping close company since the Connecticut senator crossed the aisle to endorse his Republican Senate colleague’s presidential bid. Lieberman has been campaigning for McCain in New Hampshire, and today the bipartisan pair have a co-bylined opinion article in The Wall Street Journal arguing that the U.S. military surge in Iraq has worked and praising the leadership of General David Petraeus.

Despite some speculation about a possible McCain-Lieberman ticket, the 2000 Democratic vice-presidential nominee told Reuters he wasn’t interested in being McCain’s running mate. “”Oh yeah. I got that bug out of my system,” he said.


Happy Birthday B Rapoport!

By Jennifer Siegel

It’s not every day that someone hits the big 9-0, and when the said person is one of the highest rolling (and most loved) Democratic donors, the pols turn out in droves.

Bernard Rapoport, a nice Jewish boy from Waco, Texas who grew up to earn a fortune in the insurance business, was feted at the Washington, D.C. home of Jay and Sharon Rockefeller last night.

Attendees reportedly included a high percentage of the members of Congress, including Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Frank Lautenberg and Democratic defector Joe Lieberman. (“I was surprised he showed up,” one insider who attended told the Forward.)

Also on hand were former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and DNC chair Howard Dean. Bill Clinton sent in a video tribute and Senator Ted Kennedy spoke.

Rapoport – known for his sense of humor and lack of pretension – was reportedly in good form, despite the fact that his arm was in a sling due to a shoulder injury sustained playing tennis. That’s right, tennis at 90.


Among Friends: Joe Visits With Jewish Republicans

By Ami Eden

Senator Joseph Lieberman spoke today to leaders of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

“Now,” Lieberman said, “I know there are some who are probably wondering — what is a nice Independent Democrat from Connecticut doing at a Republican event like this?”

Exactly who was wondering? The only person more upset than the RJC over Lieberman’s defeat in last summer’s Democratic primary was Dick Cheney.

Read on for a transcript of Lieberman’s speech.

Read more



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