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Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Lieberman drops out

JPost: A little over a year ago, after Al Gore announced he would not seek the presidency, US Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut led the pack of potential Democratic candidates by wide polling margins.

According to an ABC survey at the time, 27 percent of Democrats and Independents preferred Lieberman, while only 10 percent preferred the current frontrunner, US Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor trailed with three percent support.

After soaring to center stage with his 2000 vice presidential bid, Lieberman had earned enormous respect, and name recognition, among Democratic voters. And his position as a centrist Democrat, rooted in religious and moral values, prompted President Bush reportedly to tell Australian Prime Minister John Howard in October that Lieberman would be his most formidable opponent.

So why in an election year when Democrats are searching first and foremost for someone who can beat Bush did Lieberman, who terminated his campaign Tuesday night after failing to win any of the early primaries, fare so poorly?

Lieberman campaign insiders and analysts say the reasons were a mix of poor organizational planning early in the campaign, a moderate message that was unpopular with liberal primary voters, and a lackluster performance on the stump. His Judaism, they say, had nothing to do with his demise; voters rejected Lieberman's politics, not him as a person...

"The only people who really were nervous about having a Jewish president were the Jews themselves," says Jay Footlik, Lieberman's former director of community outreach.

Now, with his presidential bid behind him, Lieberman will return full-time to his senatorial duties, and continue, as he said Tuesday night, to fight for "a Democratic party that is strong on defense and unwavering in the war against terrorism."
The Democrats missed a promising opportunity with Lieberman. Now they've rejected the two candidates with the highest marks in integrity and experience, Gephardt and Lieberman, the only two I would have voted for. It's sad to see where they're headed.