Naming Mr. Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew who is pro-choice and voted against a ban on partial-birth abortions, would certainly transform Republican presidential politics. Not since Republican President Abraham Lincoln chose Democrat Andrew Johnson as his running mate in 1864 has the GOP taken a bipartisan leap.
Some say tapping Mr. Lieberman would seal the deal with foreign-policy hawks and with those evangelicals who see the preservation of Israel as a biblical imperative.
“I don’t think there is a lot he could do that would endanger Senator McCain’s candidacy, based on the stark differences between him and Barack Obama with evangelical voters,” said Randy Brinson, an evangelical and Montgomery, Ala., physician who founded the national Redeem the Vote movement. “Lieberman is strong on supporting Israel and Judeo-Christian values, so I don’t think it hurts his cause if he decides to pick Lieberman.”
In a Rasmussen Reports poll last month, 58 percent of Republicans held a favorable view of Mr. Lieberman, but only 13 percent had a “very favorable” view of him.
But in a June Rasmussen survey, 42 percent of all voters said Mr. McCain should not invite Mr. Lieberman onto his ticket, and 40 percent said they weren’t sure. Among Republicans 19 percent thought it was a good idea; 14 percent of Democrats agreed.
Larry Eastland, a conservative activist and corporate executive in Santa Monica, Calif., said Mr. Lieberman “would give McCain ‘buzz’ something he is not getting now.”
Mr. Eastland said that as a conservative, he would have a tough time voting for a Republican ticket that included the man who was Democrat AlMr. Gore’s running mate in the 2000 presidential election.
To the consternation of Democratic lawmakers, Mr. Lieberman has been campaigning with Mr. McCain. That has stirred admiration for him from some Republicans and skepticism from others.
“Evangelicals and conservatives would be confused with Lieberman on the ticket,” said Shawn Steel, newly elected Republican National Committee member from California. Besides, he said, Mr. McCain is “solid on Israel” and needs no additional support in this area.
Former Delaware GOP Chairman Terry Strine thinks it would be all downside with Mr. Lieberman.
“I have seen shudders from many Republican activists over the rumors that Lieberman may be selected by McCain,” Mr. Strine said. “They say he totally lacks charisma, is a lackluster speaker, he has no economic credentials, has no executive experience, is liberal on every issue except the war in Iraq.”
Chief political writer Ralph Z. Hallow served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University, resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar and has filed from Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Belgrade, Bucharest, Panama and Guatemala.
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