December 17, 2007

Does Lieberman Help McCain?

John McCain picked up another endorsement today -- this time from his old friend, Joe Lieberman. The Senator now designated as "independent-Democrat" on roll calls gave his support to his colleague and friend during a joint appearance at a VFW hall in New Hampshire this morning. The unusual act of having a former VP nominee from the opposition party endorsing his run for the Presidency will get McCain some headlines, but will it help Republicans feel more comfortable with McCain?

"I know that it is unusual for someone who is not a Republican to endorse a Republican candidate for President. And if this were an ordinary time and an ordinary election, I probably would not be here today. But this is no ordinary time," Lieberman said in prepared remarks released by the McCain campaign. "When others were silent, and it was thought politically unpopular, John had the courage and common sense to sound the alarm about the mistakes we were making in Iraq and to call for more troops and a new strategy there. And when others wavered, when others wanted to retreat from the field of battle, John had the courage and the common sense to stand against the tide of public opinion and support the surge in Iraq, where we are at last winning."

Lieberman certainly has the respect of Republicans who see national security and the war on terror as the primary issues in this election. The Connecticut maverick has risked his entire political future on the war, a gamble that has paid off not just for him but for the nation as well. His firmness has allowed the Bush administration to make the strategic changes both Lieberman and McCain had demanded for at least two years before implementing the surge, and that has turned fortunes around for everyone in Iraq.

However, the endorsement also emphasizes a few other issues with McCain that has kept him from winning the confidence of GOP primary voters. McCain takes a lot of criticism for his efforts to compromise on key issues in order to get legislation passed. His work with Ted Kennedy on immigration pushes conservative buttons on several levels, and the BCRA with Russ Feingold has free-speech advocates still seeing red. McCain may have a better argument with the Gang of 14, but he also probably realizes that his pragmatism undermined the prerogative of Presidents to select the judicial nominees that best represent their views.

In that sense, having Democrats cross the aisle to endorse McCain may not provide much of a boost among the voters McCain has to reach in the primaries, not even with a respected Democrat like Lieberman. Lieberman has risked much for the war, but otherwise he has little time for conservative policy, especially on domestic programs. He has voted solidly within the center of the Democratic caucus session after session on everything but the war.

McCain wants to win New Hampshire, and this could help there. Outside of Lieberman's back yard, it's not likely to help much, and could remind Republicans of trust issues over the years with McCain.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Does Lieberman Help McCain?:

» The McCain Surge Has Begun? from The Pink Flamingo

[Read More]