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Lieberman who was the partys nominee for vice president in 2000 has been a thorn in the side of Senate Democrats since he began supporting former President George W. Bushs push for war in Iraq, and he has charted a defiant path since losing the Connecticut Democratic primary in 2006 to an anti-war liberal. He won re-election as an Independent, but again incited the ire of his party by actively campaigning for the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). Lieberman almost lost his Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs gavel as a result.
With Lieberman and other Democratic votes on health care reform uncertain, Democratic aides acknowledged that Reid has been putting a lot of energy into trying to craft a deal that can appeal to Snowe and possibly Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
One senior Democratic source said Snowes vote might actually be easier to snag than Liebermans.
Snowes all about the policy, but shes aware of the politics, said the source. Lieberman is all about the politics, but he doesnt seem to be consistent on policies considering where he was in the past.
But Reid may need the votes of both Maine Senators to get the 60 votes he needs, considering Democrats are beginning to believe that securing the support of moderate Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) may also be a lost cause.
Nelson has also expressed objections to the public option, and he has been seeking to tighten the bills restrictions on federal funding of abortion. However, aides said Nelsons abortion amendment which could come up for a vote today is unlikely to prevail and there is little appetite in the caucus for a compromise that will assuage Nelsons concerns.
Some staffers even posited that the possibility of gaining Nelsons support might be more remote than Liebermans.