- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2000

LOS ANGELES A Kennedyesque Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman last night declared the opening of "the next frontier" if the nation elects him and Vice President Al Gore in November.
"It's this simple: We Democrats will expand the prosperity. They will squander it," the Connecticut senator said to a Democratic National Convention audience that included his mother, Marcia, 85.
"The miraculous journey begins now," he said in a chatty personal reflection that contrasted sharply with the fire-breathing attack by Republican vice-presidential nominee Richard B. Cheney in his acceptance speech two weeks ago.
On the night that delegates formally nominated Mr. Gore to head their ticket, Mr. Lieberman sought to evoke the spirit of the 1960 convention here when John F. Kennedy began his trip to the White House with a pledge to open a new frontier.
Mr. Lieberman, the first Orthodox Jew on a major ticket, said the first Roman Catholic to be elected president could only have dreamed about the changes the subsequent four decades produced, but he added that new challenges are at hand.
"I believe that the next frontier isn't just in front of us, but inside of us to overcome the differences that are still between us, to break down the barriers that remain, and to help every American claim the limitless possibilities of our own lives," he said.
Although his press spokesman said Mr. Gore would be watching the convention from a hotel room, the moment that Karenna Gore Schiff finished seconding her father's nomination, the vice president surprisingly stalked on stage and hugged her, then began high-fiving others on the podium as delegates chanted his name.
Earlier in the evening, introducing "my Joey" for the political speech of his life, Hadassah Lieberman said many people call "the love of my life" just a regular Joe.
"He is that and more," said Mrs. Lieberman. Her first name is Hebrew for Esther, whose role in saving her fellow Persian Jews is the centerpiece of the Purim story. She is a member of the women's Zionist organization of the same name.
"When Al Gore chose my husband as his running mate, this country got a man whose mission in life is inspired by the people he serves and the community he loves," said Mrs. Lieberman, a native of the Czech city of Prague.
Mr. Lieberman, 58, in turn, recalled his father, Henry, who was raised in an orphanage, drove a bakery truck and retired from his liquor store after being held up three times.
"Sometimes I try to see this world as my dad saw it from his bakery truck," he said.
"Is America a great country or what? As every faith teaches us, we must as Americans try to see our nation not just through our own eyes, but through the eyes of others," Mr. Lieberman said.
He also offered a personal comment on the man who chose him for the White House ticket.
"I know his record and I know his heart. I know him as a public servant and I know what it is like to sit with him around the dining room table," Mr. Lieberman said. "And we have shared private moments of prayer."
The third night began with a powerful tribute to Vietnam veterans, led by two senators who were decorated for valor. They asked that the ritual of selecting new leaders not ignore those who "made that freedom possible."
"I never felt more free than when I wore the uniform of our country," said Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Medal of Honor recipient for conspicuous gallantry that cost part of his right leg and nearly killed him.
"Let us vow to keep America strong in honor of those who fought, who bled, who died, and were strong for America," Mr. Kerrey said, without mentioning the oft-reported Vietnam-era draft avoidance by President Clinton and Mr. Lieberman's avowed opposition to that war and two draft deferments.
Earlier this month, Mr. Lieberman told the Washington Post he obtained a student draft deferment and another because he was a parent "so I did not serve," he said.
"I was actually, by Yale standards, a bit slow to oppose the war," he said, but added that by the late 1960s when he left Yale Law School to practice law, "I was anti-war."
Mr. Lieberman vowed last night that a Gore-Lieberman administration will keep the U.S. military "the best-trained, best-equipped, most potent fighting force in the history of the world."
A dramatic video tribute to veterans "under headstones," missing or home with their families was introduced by Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, an Army captain who lost both legs and right arm in a grenade explosion in Vietnam.
"We were the lucky ones. We came home. Others never did. For that, we are forever, humbly, in their debt," said Mr. Cleland, who received the Bronze Star and Silver Star for his service.
Although many speakers extolled the "Al Gore and Joe Lieberman" ticket, the actual nomination came just before the end of last night's session in speeches by actor Tommy Lee Jones, Tennessee House Speaker Pro Tem Lois DeBerry and his daughter.
Despite the lack of a contest, delegates for the first time in convention history cast votes over the Internet from a computer placed with each state delegation.
But each state delegation still got up to one minute to brag about its top industry, championship team or tourist attraction.
The official nomination the convention's only official reason for being took less than an hour, despite plans by a handful of diehard Bill Bradley delegates from Florida who said they wouldn't go along among the 359 he released Sunday to vote for Mr. Gore.
"It's the whole notion that everything is set up to be a rubber stamp process and there's no input from the floor," said Vincent Lipsio, 42, of Gainesville. "It's purely symbolic. I will work my posterior off for Al Gore."
Mr. Lieberman did not map out the way to his "next frontier" but offered a folksy example in saying that Republican proposals to cut taxes would help the rich but leave only droppings for the poor.
"They believe the best way to feed the birds is to give more oats to the horse," he said with a smile.
Mr. Lieberman's approach remained gentle throughout, calling "many in their party my friends … decent and likable men" and calmly rebuked the Republican stance on the environment, health insurance, campaign financing and schools.
"It seems like their idea of school modernization means buying a new calendar for every building," Mr. Lieberman said, throwing a special dart on health care at Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush, governor of Texas.
"I'm sad to say that Texas is also falling behind on that. Texas led the nation in the percentage of residents who were uninsured," he said.
Even before his star turn in prime time for the most important speech of his political career, Mr. Lieberman had a busy day assuring Asians, homosexuals and Hispanics that Democratic diversity is the real thing and warning them not to be fooled by Republican George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism."
"We're not faking anything," Mr. Lieberman said in a direct slap at Republican speaker lists that emphasized minorities, which Democrats here say came from central casting.
A group of homosexual supporters gave a standing ovation when Mr. Lieberman recalled his opposition to the Clinton administration's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on the military and declared support for stronger hate-crimes legislation.
The hate-crime theme was adopted in another segment of the long seven-hour program by bringing to the Staples Center stage the daughter of James Byrd Jr., who was dragged to death behind a pickup truck in Texas, and the parents of Matthew Shepard, of Casper, Wyo., whose murder after a robbery became a symbol for those seeking special penalties for crimes against homosexuals.
"What happened to Matthew was a hate crime, pure and simple," said Dennis Shepard, who joined his wife, Judy, in lobbying to include sexual orientation as a factor in the federal hate-crime law.
"This is not a gay rights issue, this is a human rights issue," Mr. Shepard said. "Everyone has the right to live his or her life without fear of physician or mental abuse."
Renee Mullins seemed disturbed even to be talking about her father's gruesome death.
"It sends chills through my body, just thinking about the reason why I'm here," she said. "These kinds of crimes cannot and will not be tolerated in America… . Hate crimes must die."
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, in his first convention appearance as head of the huge labor federation, led the contingent of union speakers on last night's program.
"Al Gore and Joe Lieberman … will win the victory because we share the belief that no worker should lack the pay and benefits it takes to feed and house and love a family," Mr. Sweeney said in his distinctive gravelly voice.
"We will win because we believe that every worker should have … the right to join a union," he said.
That drew a quick retort from Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation, which opposes mandatory union membership.
"While Sweeney complains workers should have more freedom to join a union, his AFL-CIO gets workers fired who chose not to join or support a union. So much for workers' rights," Mr. Gleason said.
Andrew Stern, international president of the Service Employees International, the nation's largest health care union, told of attending the Republican convention in Philadelphia two weeks ago and blasted the party's philosophy.
"The Republican ticket could not be more wrong when it comes to the issue of health security for American families," Mr. Stern said. "Their answer to working people who need secure, affordable coverage is, 'Take two aspirin, and don't call us in the morning.' "

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