The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Could Dodd End Up Flipping Lieberman?


Certain bloggers are paying close attention to a particular paragraphs in a New Yorker profile of Sen. Joe Lieberman:

Iraq is the reason that Lieberman calls himself an “independent Democrat.” Democratic voters in Connecticut abandoned him in last year’s primary, favoring the antiwar candidate Ned Lamont. Lieberman ran as an independent, and beat the ineffectual Lamont in the general election in large part because Republicans voted for him. In the campaign, Lieberman said that he would join the Democratic caucus if elected, and his victory was the deciding one that gave the Democrats control of the Senate. But he told me recently that his attachment to the Party is based in some measure on sentiment, and should not necessarily be thought of as eternal.

“A lot of Democrats are essentially pacifists and somewhat isolationist,” he told me. He had particular problems with Senator Edward Kennedy’s proposal to deny the President funding for a troop surge, and with an idea recently raised by the senior senator from Connecticut, Christopher Dodd, to cap the number of American soldiers in Iraq. Lieberman was not willing to say whether he would remain a Democrat if the Party cut off funding for the war. “That would be stunning to me,” he said. “And very hurtful. And I’d be deeply affected by it. Let’s put it that way.” 

Some of these underdog Democratic senatorial candidates are in a really odd, and tough spot. The only way they can get attention and traction against Hillary and Obama is to be bolder, to go further to the left and appeal to the base; essentially, by attempting to end the war by cutting off funding and to paint the frontrunners as spineless by comparison. But that act might be the last straw to Lieberman, and he could flip, giving Republicans control of the Senate again.

High-risk, high-reward strategy. If you want to be the senator who can say, “I’m the man who got us out of Iraq”, you have to risk being the senator who as to say, “I’m the man who cost us control of the Senate.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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