Lieberman Cites Reasons for Supporting McCain

Lieberman gestures at a press conference.

hide captionSen. Joseph Lieberman gestures during a press conference at the Shangri-La Hotel on May 30, 2008.

Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

Although he's an independent from Connecticut who caucuses with Senate Democrats, Sen. Joe Lieberman would not rule out an appearance at the Republican Party convention.

"I believe in John McCain," Lieberman tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "If he asks me, sure, I'd consider it."

But would speaking at the rival party's convention constitute a de facto breach with the Democrats?

It would not be as large of a breach as the ruinous effect of political partisanship, Lieberman says.

"To me, the partisanship that has grown more bitter and divisive over the years here in Washington is the problem that Washington has to solve before it can solve the problems that people have to worry about every day."

Agreeing with McCain on the Iraq War

Lieberman notes that he and McCain have worked together on many issues: the creation of the 9/11 Commission, legislation on lobbying and ethics, and on climate change.

"He was the first Republican to really step out and do something effective on climate change," Lieberman says of McCain.

But perhaps no other area binds the senators more than foreign policy. The two men agree "on almost every aspect," Lieberman says.

The Iraq war has been a particularly defining issue for Lieberman, since he says his support of the war cost him the 2006 Democratic primary in his home state of Connecticut. Lieberman went on to win re-election to the Senate anyway, by running as an independent.

Looking Ahead to January

If the Democrats pick up additional Senate seats in the November election, it's possible that party members may no longer need Lieberman to caucus with them — particularly given that he has campaigned with McCain and could end up as a speaker at the GOP convention.

And if that were to happen, it's unclear whether Lieberman would be able to hold on to his leadership positions as chair of the Homeland Security Committee and as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. But Lieberman sets such thoughts aside.

"The first thing that I've decided is that I'm going to do what is right. I'm not going to calculate what effect it will have on me in the future," he says. "I have been a Democrat all my life, and I remain a Democrat. I ask to be judged on my record."

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