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A McCain-Lieberman Ticket in 2008?

Kenneth R. Timmerman

Monday, Jan. 8, 2007

 Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the former Democrat who was spurned by his party last year, feels good about his new "Independent" label.

It showed on Thursday night, Jan. 4, at a gala hosted by Lieberman supporters in a palatial ballroom at Washington's Union Station, where the only prominent Democrat who showed up was the other U.S. senator from Connecticut, Chris Dodd.

During the 2006 elections, Dodd appeared at events for Ned Lamont, the left-wing Democrat who beat Lieberman in the Democratic primary for U.S. senator in Connecticut. And Dodd didn't just campaign for Lamont: he brought Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and other party heavyweights into the state, in a determined effort to keep Lieberman from winning re-election last November as an independent.

"There is no hatchet to bury," Dodd told NewsMax, when asked about bad feelings left over from the campaign. "I wasn't campaigning against Joe. I was campaigning for Democrats as the leader of my state's party," he said.

Lieberman appeared just as eager to let old wounds lie. "He is my senior senator," he stated emphatically. When asked if he had any advice for Dodd as he embarked on a campaign to win the Democratic nod as the 2008 presidential candidate, he said "No."

"I just remember what an honor it was to run for the office of president of the United States. My only advice is, remember to have fun," he said eventually.

Lieberman was joined on Thursday night by Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., and by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. But not a single top Democratic National Committee official or pundit showed up at the "I'm Sticking With Joe" gala.

Lieberman increasingly has made appearances with Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who now leads the Republican Party for the 2008 presidential nomination.

On Friday, Lieberman and McCain joined a panel at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington, where scholar Frederick W. Kagan presented a conservative answer to the Iraqi Study Group.

McCain and Lieberman both argued for a "surge" in U.S. troop strength in Iraq, following Kagan's presentation of his report, "Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq."

"It was a love fest," said Jerome Gordon, a retired U.S. intelligence officer and Lieberman supporter who drove down from Connecticut for the events. "The chemistry between John and Joe was palpable." Lieberman was more demure when asked if he and the Arizona Republican had become "a thing" in Washington — referring to a possible 2008 McCain-Lieberman presidential ticket.

"We are old friends," he said. "We are good friends."

Last month, Lieberman gave a glowing introduction of his "good friend" John McCain, as he was to receive an award from the conservative Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). He recalled going on congressional delegations with McCain around the world, including one to Pakistan where former Tennessee Republican Fred Thomson begged McCain for four hours sleep, after arriving in the frontier town of Peshawar after a grueling 24 hour journey.

"Fred was ready to head back home if John didn't relent," Lieberman joked. "John was a tough task masker," he said.

The warmth of Lieberman's introduction to his Republican colleague made heads turn among the movers and shakers in the crowd. "McCain-Lieberman? There's something to that," JINSA board member Morris J. Amitay told the crowd.

Left-wing groups including have begun to treat McCain and Lieberman as a couple as well, with banners on the street below the American Enterprise Institute on Friday that called for an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

"McCain don't feel no pain," one of the banners read. "No surge," read another.

As he had done all through his U.S. Senate re-election campaign, Lieberman insisted on Friday that America is facing a global threat from Islamic terrorism similar to the one we faced after Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

The main difference was that Americans have yet to wake up after the Sept. 11 attack, he said.