Reid Pans Lieberman Speech to GOP

Posted September 3, 2008 at 8:18am

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) expressed displeasure with Sen. Joe Lieberman on Tuesday, after the Connecticut Independent Democratic Senator used his speech at the Republican convention to attack Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.).

Reid spokesman Jim Manley said, “Sen. Reid was very disappointed in Sen. Lieberman’s speech … especially when he appeared to go out of his way to distort Sen. Obama’s record of bipartisan achievements in the Senate. He can give all the partisan speeches he wants, but as the American people have made very clear, the last thing this country needs is another four years of the same old failed Bush/McCain polices of the past.”

Democratic sources predicted that Lieberman might have increased the likelihood that, if Democrats expand their 51-49 majority in the Senate in November, Lieberman could face punishment for party disloyalty. Among the punishments he could face are losing his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, among other potential punishments.

However Reid has repeatedly insisted Lieberman will face no retaliation from Democrats given his reliable support for Democratic priorities outside of ending the Iraq war and electing Obama.

Last night, Lieberman acknowledged to MSNBC that he was on presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain’s (Ariz.) short list for the vice presidential nod, and appeared to indicate that he would have accepted the offer if it had been forthcoming. McCain instead chose conservative Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

In his speech, Lieberman adopted some of the same criticisms that Republicans have lobbed at Obama, highlighting the Democratic nominee’s lack of experience relative to that of McCain.

“Sen. Barack Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who I think can do great things for our country in the years ahead,” said Lieberman to cheers and applause. “But my friends, eloquence is no substitute for a record, not in these tough times for America.”

He also disputed Obama’s assertions that he has worked in a bipartisan fashion in his short Senate tenure.

“In the Senate, during the three-and-a-half years that Sen. Obama’s been a member, he has not reached across party lines to accomplish anything significant, nor has he been willing to take on powerful interest groups in the Democratic Party to get something done,” Lieberman said. “And I just ask you to contrast that with John McCain’s record of independence and bipartisanship.”

Lieberman continues to caucus with Senate Democrats despite losing his party’s primary in 2006. He won re-election as an Independent and endorsed McCain largely because they both support keeping a presence in Iraq, while most Democrats, including Reid, have called for a withdrawal of troops.