Lieberman to Endorse McCain

Joe Lieberman, every Republican’s favorite Democrat (er, “Independent”), will endorse John McCain, every Democrat’s favorite Republican, for president tomorrow. Mike Allen and Jonathan Martin for The Politico:

Lieberman to Endorse McCain Photo Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.), who was on the national Democratic ticket in 2000, will cross the aisle to endorse Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tomorrow, Republican sources said.

The two will appear together on NBC’s “Today” show tomorrow, then at an 8 a.m. town hall meeting in Hillsborough, N.H. They will talk with reporters after the meeting.

The move, which will help cultivate McCain’s moderate status, is an effort to draw attention to the McCain campaign, which needs a splash. Otherwise, it does not make sense for McCain because it will only remind core Republicans why they distrust him.

If we were having a national primary, it would be a be more advantageous for McCain to wait until the general election to start taking in endorsements from social liberals. Given that his strategy hinges on winning over moderate voters in New Hampshire, though, this can’t hurt.

Chris Cillizza agrees: “While Lieberman has grown less and less popular within Democratic ranks, he remains a respected figure among moderate and unaligned voters. That constituency is crucial in New Hampshire as unaffiliated voters, who can vote in either party’s primary on Jan. 8, make up roughly 40 percent of the Granite State electorate.”

Roger L. Simon thinks this means “McCain (who was being dismissed) may now be a force to reckoned with.”

Marc Ambider concurs: “The endorsement could help McCain with independents in the state. Combine that with news that Rudy Giuliani is scaling back his advertising buy there, that the Boston Globe endorsed McCain, and that McCain’s rivals are spending most of their time in Iowa.”

Jeralyn Merritt is underwhelmed: “This is not surprising to me — it’s just two of your father’s Oldsmobiles sticking together.” Still, she thinks the implications are interesting: “But with so many independents expected to vote at N.H. caucuses and Obama’s substantial support in N.H. coming from independents (rather than Democrats who favor Hillary there) I wonder whether Lieberman’s endorsement will result in Obama losing independent votes to McCain?”

Andrew Sullivan thinks it might. Further, he’s not sure “reinforcing his maverick, bipartisan independent appeal that the Christianist base suspects so much” helps McCain beyond New Hampshire.

Once one gets beyond his provocative headline, AllahPundit is somewhat less analytical: “He finally gets his revenge on the left, something he’s been flirting with publicly since January and which now comes not so much as an early Christmas gift to the nutroots than as a flaming bag of dog crap left on their collective porch.”

Pejman Yousefzadeh is more philosophical. He wonders, “How is it that a former Vice Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, the man praised nearly eight years ago as being a pathbreaker, has ended up departing from the Democrats on so crucial an issue?” His hunch is it means a lot of Democrats with similar feelings.

Michael ‘A.J. Sparxx’ Illions goes further: “Would anyone be surprised to see John McCain, if he were to win the nomination, ask Joe Lieberman to run as his V.P.?”

Most of the lefty bloggers weighing in are less sanguine than Merritt. HuffPo’s Ari Melber sniffs, “Senator Joe Lieberman will finally come clean on Monday, unleashing his inner-Republican.”

Sean-Paul Kelley dismisses any talk of Lieberman and McCain as moderates: “They are a bad joke and smell about as bad as an undergraduate term paper.”

FDL’s Phoenix Woman rants about Lieberman “screw[ing] another politician named Clinton” via a “self-serving betrayal of them” culminating “spitting in her face” (along with Harry Reid’s, naturally).

Oliver Willis, though, offers Democrats this solace:

in the final analysis it is clear that Joe Lieberman did nothing to help Al Gore on the ticket in 2000. Lieberman was supposed to bring aboard Jewish voters, as well as Republicans and Independents who were supposedly disaffected by Sen. Clinton’s affair. He didn’t help at all. So, his endorsement of John McCain and a possible McCain-Lieberman ticket would be a drag on the Republican ticket as well.

Q.E.D.

UPDATE: Here’s a video of the endorsement:

It won “Play of the Day” honors from the Associated Press.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Paul says:

    Lieberman probably cost Gore the election. From what I could see at the time, it appeared that the runner up choice was Bob Graham. Had he picked Graham, he would have won Florida and the election.

    “bring aboard Jewish voters?” No way, Gore was trying to get distance from Clinton (which was silly because it was impossible, it probably only hurt Gore to play it that way). The Jewish vote is not easily swayed, and is in any event very small. Gore/Lieberman did worse than Clinton/Gore and only 1% better than Kerry-Edwards in the Jewish two-party vote.

    I guess Lieberman is hammering the final nail in his coffin of keeping a committee gavel for ’09, if the current outlook holds and the Dems gain in the Senate. Perhaps he figures he has already lost that anyway and so he is auditioning for a Cabinet post in a McCain administration?

  2. Anderson says:

    His hunch is it means a lot of Democrats with similar feelings.

    Permit me to doubt.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Permit me to doubt.

    Oh, I’m sure there are plenty of “Lieberman Democrats” out there to go along with the “Goldwater Republicans” or whatever you want to call them. It’s fairly rare for them to actually cross over and voter for the other party, though.

  4. Tano says:

    I tend to doubt the number of “lieberman democrats”. Most of the Dems who got caught up in neocondom have already left the party, and a fair number of them are probably on the way back, given how all that worked out…

  5. Pug says:

    The move, which will help cultivate McCain’s moderate status . . .

    And “moderate status” became helpful in Republican primaries when?

    The Washington media will love this. Broder will pontificate favorably but voters, for the most part, will find it irrelevant.

    Hard core conservatives and “values voters” either distrust, don’t like or despise McCain. Most Democrats feel the same about Lieberman, only more so. So if the Republicans don’t like you and the Democrats don’t like you, who votes for you? These guys have no base.

  6. Twd says:

    I’m sure being associated with Lieberman will help McCain every bit as much as it helped Gore.

  7. MichaelB says:

    But the question isn’t whether Democrats like Lieberman, it’s whether Republicans do. Since Lieberman is currently best known for supporting the war in the face of opposition from his party – a popular position amongst Republications – this seems to help McCain.

    The (many) liberal views that Lieberman holds are not what people know about him, except for political junkies and perhaps his own voters. Besides, nobody seriously thinks he’s endorsing McCain because of McCain’s position on abortion.

  8. yetanotherjohn says:

    I wonder if Markos will take credit for his part in helping to bring this about?

  9. Tlaloc says:

    I’m not overly fond of Markos but his opposition to lieberman was a good call. It was win-win for the Left; either we kept Lieberman or we got Lamont (a big step up). Since Lieberman caucused with the Democrats there was no loss to the left at all. Indeed by getting him (lieberman) out of the party it was a net gain.

  10. yetanotherjohn says:

    Tlaloc,

    And out of the party in a position that he can credibly endorse a republican for president. Yes by all means. Drive everyone out of the democratic party who does not advocate an immediate retreat in Iraq. That will certainly be a net gain for the party (I’ll leave it to you to figure out which party).

  11. Bruce Moomaw says:

    I doubt that Lieberman’s endorsement will help McCain one bit, for the reason stated by Matt Yglesias. Lieberman endorsed McCain for one reason and one reason only: they’re both enthusiastic hawks on Iraq. Therefore his endorsement is not going to make McCain one speck more popular with the people who were going to vote against McCain because they oppose his hawkishness on Iraq — nor is it going to help him one bit among the people who were going to vote for or against McCain for OTHER reasons. Politically, this is simply a complete non-story, despite the frantic attempts of the Talking Heads to give it political significance.

    Actually, it does have one piece of post-2008 political significance: it provides another major obstacle to Al Gore ever running for President again. (“You mean, you put HIM on your ticket?”)