The words of Joe Lieberman about the situation on Capitol Hill and the situation he finds himself in today, fighting for his political life as an independent candidate. The Hartford Courant has a good article that shows the problems and the advantages that Lieberman's decision to run as an independent have given him. Some old friends have turned their backs on him, while others have stood fast. In a way, says Lieberman, it has been a blessing being forced to run without his party's endorsement.
As a Democrat who often saw himself as a man apart, whether speaking against President Clinton's affair or rallying support for President Bush's decision to invade Iraq, Lieberman is finding solace in his new status.
"Running as an independent, as you well know, was not my first choice," Lieberman said Friday in an interview. "I honestly now look at it as a kind of, oh, I don't know, a blessing."
He remains a registered Democrat as he runs as a petitioning candidate on his own ballot line: Connecticut for Lieberman.
If he is victorious on Nov. 7, Lieberman said, he intends to return to Washington as a member of the Democratic caucus. He says he has been assured by Senate Democratic leaders of retaining his 18 years of seniority, an assertion other senators say privately is well-founded.
But Lieberman, whose outspoken support for President Bush's decision to invade Iraq was the catalyst for Lamont's challenge, also said his run as a petitioning candidate has been transforming.
"There is no question that this has had an effect on me," Lieberman said. "Look, long before the primary, long before Ned Lamont announced … I've been saying over and over again, there's too much partisanship in Washington. It stops us from solving the problems or seizing the opportunities for people who are good enough to elect us."
On the campaign trail, Lieberman's message has changed since the primary, when he stressed his party credentials as a vice presidential nominee and presidential candidate who opposed Bush. His target then was Democratic voters antagonistic to the war and disdainful of Bush.
Democrats now are the smallest segment of his support. A recent poll shows his support comes from 67 percent of Republicans, 45 percent of unaffiliated voters and 35 percent of Democrats.
Lieberman relies on talking points more often sounded by the Bush White House than Democratic congressional candidates, invoking patriotism and America's need to be vigilant in a dangerous world.
Last week, Lieberman campaigned in Waterbury, where the mayor, Michael Jarjura, is a rarity: a Democratic officeholder still backing him. About 50 police officers and firefighters, some on duty and in uniform, stood behind him on the steps outside city hall as Lieberman held himself above other politicians.
"I am doing something unconventional," he said. "I decided to stay in the fight after the primary, because I believed so deeply I can do a better job for the state and the country than the other two candidates."
One odd thing here for me. I have actually written quite a lot about the Senate race in Connecticut, even though I live nowhere near the place. The longer I have covered it, the more I find I like Joe Lieberman. In the 2000 election, I knew virtually nothing about the man and disliked him only for the fact that I did not like Al Gore. I've come to like Lieberman more and my son has come to like McCain less. it's a funny old world sometimes.