If Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain is elected to the White House in November, the United States would have a bipartisan administration, something unseen since Abraham Lincoln, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., told more than 100 people attending his speech at the top of the Hopkins Center for the Arts Thursday.
“When members of the media asked me who I was going to support, I said I’m going to support whoever I think is the best candidate for president, regardless of party,” said Lieberman, the self-described “independent Democrat,” who endorsed McCain last December.
Lieberman’s endorsement was the first to cross party lines in the 2008 presidential election, drawing criticism from many Democrats. Calls for Lieberman to be stripped of his U.S. Senate positions, including his chairmanship of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, intensified after he was considered for McCain’s vice presidency, although Lieberman said he was skeptical that he would be chosen for the position.
“His choice of [Alaska Governor] Sarah Palin makes a point of what he wants to do in Washington,” Lieberman said. “He wants to change Washington and she is an ordinary citizen who wanted change and got involved.”
Lieberman said he endorsed McCain, his long-time friend and colleague, because he believes in McCain’s ability to promote national security as commander-in-chief. The current financial crisis has reinforced his support for McCain, whose economic policy includes lowering taxes and promoting trade to expand the U.S. economy, Lieberman said. McCain’s approaches will benefit the average “Joe the Plumber,” he added.
“As the economy went down, Obama went up [in the polls,]” Lieberman said. “That just didn’t make sense to me. When we’re in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, you want someone who’s been tested in a crisis.”
Lieberman compared Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama’s economic plan to former president Herbert Hoover’s approach, which he said “turned a recession into a depression.” Lieberman claimed that Obama would take a protectionist policy towards trade and raise capital gains taxes. Obama’s plan would hurt stocks and retirement plans even more, he said.
Having served for 20 years in the U.S. Senate with McCain, Lieberman cited examples of when McCain backed positions that were unpopular within his own party. McCain stood up to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s strategy in Iraq and advocated a troop surge, Lieberman said.
McCain took a similarly contentious position by denouncing lobbyist Jack Abramoff and calling for the shutdown of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and an end to the use of torture by U.S. intelligence agencies, Lieberman said.
McCain promoted the establishment of an independent commission to investigate the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Lieberman said. When the Bush administration tried to block the bill from passing in the House of Representatives, McCain held every House bill on the Senate floor until the Sept. 11 commission bill was passed, he added.
Members of New Hampshire Democrats for McCain and New Hampshire Independents for McCain joined Lieberman in rallying support for the candidate prior to the Nov. 4 election.
“Senator McCain appeals to independents such as Senator Lieberman, and he has a solid record of working with members across the aisle,” Greg Boguslavsky ’09, co-chair of New Hampshire Students for John McCain and chair of New Hampshire College Republicans, said in an e-mail. “Barack Obama talks a lot about bipartisanship and post-partisanship, but John McCain has actually walked the walk.”
Lieberman tried to allay concerns about McCain’s lagging position in New Hampshire and national polls by reminding the audience that McCain trailed twice as much in the polls before he won the New Hampshire primary election. Lieberman cited a new Associated Press poll that had Obama leading McCain by one percentage point, well within the margin of error.
“New Hampshire voters have the same independent streak as John McCain,” Jennifer Bandy ’09, president of the Dartmouth College Republicans, said in an e-mail. “After his two primary wins here, I am convinced that he has what it takes to appeal to and win over New Hampshire voters of all party affiliations.”