As if there wasn’t already enough palace intrigue over who presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will choose as his running mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Independent, relayed the news to any potential contender Tuesday morning that they may be the pick — they just don’t know it yet.
On CNN’s “Starting Point,” Mr. Lieberman, Democrat Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, recounted the following story from 12 years ago.
On a Sunday in August, a staffer relayed to him news from inside one of the networks that Mr. Gore had selected former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards as his pick. So, Mr. Lieberman said, he and his family had some wine, toasted the country, and he went to bed.
The next morning, however, he woke up to the local news relaying an Associated Press report that “our very own Senator” Joe Lieberman had been selected.
“And all heck broke loose,” Mr. Lieberman said. “I thought it was a hallucinatory hangover, but it was real.”
Mr. Lieberman was also reportedly on the short list for Sen. John McCain in 2008 before the Arizona Republican selected former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
“I would say the odds are the person, if Governor Romney has chosen a running mate now, that person doesn’t know, and probably won’t know until probably the eve of or the day before,” Mr. Lieberman said.
A bus tour that Mr. Romney is starting this Saturday includes trips through states home to a who’s who of vice presidential contenders. He’s scheduled to swing through Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell; Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican; and Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican, have all been mentioned as possible selections.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; and Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee, are also said to be near the top.
Mr. Lieberman also blasted the Obama and Romney campaigns, accusing both presidential candidates of harping on each other’s negative qualities rather than laying out their own plan for the country.
He said the race has already “set records for negativity and nastiness” and that the tone thus far will only work to shake the confidence of voters heading toward Election Day.
“It’s exactly the opposite of what our country needs,” he said. “Part of what our country needs now is a healthy dose of vision of what both of these candidates will do if they get elected, instead of trying to scare us into how terrible the other one [is].”
Mr. Lieberman added that widespread negativity in campaigning and the heavy reliance on fundraising are reasons why he has chosen not to seek re-election and will retire at the end of his current term.
He said he has not decided which presidential candidate he will vote for and that he plans to keep his decision private.
— David Hill contributed to this report.