An aide to Lieberman tells CNN he decided to endorse McCain because he considers him “the most capable to be commander in chief on day one of his administration, and the most capable of uniting the country so that we can prevail against Islamic extremism.”
The Lieberman aide insists the senator does not see this as a “commentary on or an endorsement of the Republican party, only the person.”
Lieberman had not planned to endorse anyone until after the primary season, but McCain asked Lieberman for his endorsement a few days after the two men returned from a Thanksgiving trip to Iraq together, and Lieberman decided to do it, according to the same Lieberman aide.
Lieberman will continue to caucus with the Democrats.
Quoth Harry Reid: “I have the greatest respect for Joe, but I simply have to disagree with his decision to endorse Senator McCain.”
According to HuffPost, McCain and Lieberman “will appear together on NBC’s ‘Today’ show tomorrow, then at an 8 a.m. town hall in Hillsborough, N.H. They will talk with reporters after the town hall meeting.”
The endorsement is further evidence of Lieberman’s slow drift to the right in American politics and is bound to generate intense anger among Democrats who support him. But Lieberman and McCain have often walked in lockstep together on the prosecution of the war, have traveled to Iraq together, and have worked together on domestic issues like climate change.
The move will heighten speculation that McCain might ask Lieberman to join his ticket.
P.S. Daily Kos diarist JeremiahFP:
Both [McCain and Lieberman] are good men and members of the Beltway club of Very. Smart. People. Who. Are. Always. Wrong. About. Everything (Iraq, Iran, Whether Fred Thompson is sexy. Everything). Those very smart people will faun all over this. David Brodeur’s head may explode with pride.
As for the rest of us, well, the battle lines are drawn once again. Joe Lieberman is not a Democrat. He may be a good person, but, on matters of life and death and war and peace, Joe Lieberman is fundamentally wrong. Ou[r] party should stand up to him strongly.
Andrew Sullivan has more.
UPDATE 2: According to Fox News, a Lieberman aide said this does not mean we’ll be seeing a McCain-Lieberman ticket:
[T]he aide said… that McCain did not ask Lieberman to join his ticket in the vice presidential slot.
Lieberman “just wants to serve as a U.S. senator, nothing more,” the aide said.
Of course, that is what they’d say now, regardless of what might actually happen later. Personally, I can’t see Lieberman turning McCain down if McCain begs him to join the ticket for the sake of national unity and national security. The question is, will McCain ask?
In other McCain-related news, I had somehow missed this before, but the conservative New Hampshire Union Leader endorsed McCain earlier this month. That’s far more significant, it seems to me, than the endorsements from the liberal Boston Globe and Des Moines Register, which are unlikely to influence many Republican voters. Anyway, here’s what the Leader had to say, in part:
On Jan. 8, New Hampshire Republicans will make one of the most important choices for their party and nation in the history of our presidential primary. Their choice ought to be John McCain.
We don’t agree with him on every issue. We disagree with him strongly on campaign finance reform. What is most compelling about McCain, however, is that his record, his character, and his courage show him to be the most trustworthy, competent, and conservative of all those seeking the nomination. Simply put, McCain can be trusted to make informed decisions based on the best interests of his country, come hell or high water.
Competence, courage, and conviction are enormously important for our next President to possess. No one has a better understanding of U.S. interests and dangers right now than does McCain. He was right on the mistakes made by the Bush administration in prosecuting the Islamic terrorist war in Iraq and he is being proved right on the way forward both there and worldwide.
McCain is pro-life. Always has been. He fights against special-interest and pork-barrel spending, and high spending in general, which ticks off liberals and many in the GOP who have wallowed at the public trough. Yet he also has the proven ability, unique among the contenders, to work across the political divide that has led our government into petty bickering when important problems need to be solved.
If you can’t tell, I’m strongly leaning toward McCain as my preferred choice for the GOP nomination. Whether that means I’ll vote for him in November is a separate question, but I think he’s the best Republican in the field. Lieberman’s endorsement sort of sealed it.