Multiple Choice.

Posted April 9, 2003 at 6:35pm

Rival presidential camps were chuckling Wednesday about a memo from the campaign of Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) that didn’t leave anything to chance for today’s mass endorsement by 10 House Democrats.

“Each Member should speak for no more than 2 minutes and should stress one of the following

message points of his/her choosing: I believe Joe Lieberman should be the next President because …” Lieberman’s political director, Joe Eyer, advised the 10 lawmakers in the memo. “Choose one and expand.”

The lawmakers were then given four choices for why they like Lieberman: “1) he is socially progressive; 2) he is fiscally responsible; 3) he is tough on defense and homeland security; 4) he has a pro-growth economic agenda. OR alternatively, you could just say a few words about Joe’s character/integrity.”

One adviser for another presidential contender cracked, “Even Joe Lieberman’s own staff can only come up with four reasons to support him.”

Lieberman spokesman Jano Cabrera countered to HOH that “Members of Congress are obviously busy folks with a lot on their minds. And given the wealth of great stuff any one person could say about Joe Lieberman, we figured multiple choice was the way to go.”

And then there was the “speaking order” for the press conference at the Washington Court Hotel, with Lieberman’s staff making it clear that they don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.

“The speaking order was determined by extending the first two slots to Joe’s [Connecticut] colleagues,” Eyer wrote of Reps. Rosa DeLauro and John Larson.

Then will come Rep. Bill Lipinski (Ill.), the most senior lawmaker in the group. “The remainder of the speaking order flows from East to West geographically,” said the memo.

For those keeping score at home, that means an order of Reps. Steven Rothman (N.J.), Elliot Engel (N.Y.), Robert Wexler (Fla.), Brad Carson (Okla.), Dennis Cardoza (Calif.), Cal Dooley (Calif.) and Ellen Tauscher (Calif.).

It’s Official. After agonizing about it for several years, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) has decided to officially change her voting registration from Republican to Democrat back home on Long Island.

McCarthy disclosed the change during a brief speech at Wednesday’s closed-door meeting of the Democratic Caucus, with colleagues letting out some cheers when she delivered the news.

It’s a little-known fact that McCarthy, who prides herself on being politically independent, had never officially changed her status in the voting rolls. Perhaps owing to her unlikely entry to Congress, she has privately expressed deep frustration with partisanship on Capitol Hill and has not wanted to be too closely aligned with either side of the aisle.

Her husband, Dennis, was killed and her son Kevin lost the use of his left arm when a gunman murdered six people aboard a Long Island Rail Road car in 1993. When then-Rep. Daniel Frisa (R-N.Y.) voted against a ban on assault weapons in 1995, an outraged McCarthy ran as a Democrat and beat the freshman by a wide margin.

While being closely aligned with Democrats on her signature issue of gun control, McCarthy has often refused to toe the party line on other matters. It was a point of personal pride — in addition to being politically wise in her district — for her to remain a registered Republican.

But she has faced quiet pressure from Democrats who have long wanted her to take the final step of officially registering with the party. “She did switch,” a McCarthy spokesman confirmed to HOH.

The Congresswoman, however, declined to come to the phone and explain why she’s making the move now.

Big Ben. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) is getting rapped back home for questioning President Bush’s religious faith.

Speaking from the pulpit of the Haven United Methodist Church in his district, Thompson said, “We have a president who really only goes to church when he’s in trouble. Otherwise, he goes to Camp David.”

Thompson drew a sharp rebuke from The Clarksdale Press Register, which ran an editorial stressing that the newspaper does not subscribe to the notion that critics of the president are unpatriotic. But the paper declared that the Congressman “crossed the line” with his sermon.

“Who is Thompson to judge Bush’s motives on matters of faith?” opined the newspaper. “A master of political opportunism and using the pulpit for political gain, Thompson has little room to talk.

“A tenet of the Christian faith to which Thompson subscribes is the biblical admonition against judging others. Condemnation of Bush’s foreign policy shouldn’t include below-the-belt personal attacks. Bush’s church-going habits are between him and his God.”

Thompson’s office did not return a call seeking comment.

Watts the Deal? In addition to all of his lucrative consulting contracts, ex-House GOP Conference Chairman J.C. Watts (Okla.) is trying his hand at writing a column for The Sporting News.

So far, it’s reading like the silly column that talkmeister Larry King used to fill with random thoughts — and plugs for old pals — before USA Today canceled it.

A recent column about the joys of spring spoke glowingly about Lake Eufaula, Okla., though Watts seems to also be in D.C. a fair amount these days as well.

“The trees are budding, and the sweet aroma of honeysuckle delights the senses of evening porch-sitters,” Watts wrote, adding that “my brother Lawrence is priming the smoker for another season of the best barbecue” in his home state.

“Next time you’re motoring the ol’ family van down I-40 near my hometown, pull off at the exit to Eufaula and check out Watts Barbecue on the marina,” he wrote. “Lawrence will thank you for the business, and you’ll thank me for the tip.”

Honoring Inouye. Senate Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) traveled to Pearl Harbor to deliver a keynote address at the opening of a new documentary film about the life of one of his closest pals, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii).

The 56-minute documentary about the World War II hero features interviews with many of his longtime colleagues, including Sens. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

The film was made by Heather Giugni, the daughter of Henry Giugni, a former Inouye aide who also served as Senate Sergeant-at-Arms.

“I would have preferred a film after I’m gone,” the 78-year-old Inouye told The Associated Press. “To see yourself on film, that’s a little, well, I’m not used to that.”

He added in his succinct way, “Politicians make bad movie stars. Movie stars make good politicians.”

The film traces Inouye’s life from a young boy on Waikiki beach to serving in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, where he lost his right arm. It also features his previous star turns as chairman of the panel that probed the Iran-Contra affair as well as the Senate Watergate Committee, where he flashed his serious side.

“I asked my wife, ‘Did I look that mean?’ and she says, ‘Yes,’” recalled Inouye. “I don’t want to come across as mean. I’m not a mean fellow.”