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Jewish World Review Dec. 19, 2002 / 14 Teves, 5763

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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Consumer Reports


Lieberman the frontrunner


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The man most advantaged by Al Gore's withdrawal from the 2004 presidential race is his former running mate - Sen. Joseph Lieberman.

Lieberman, who had vowed not to run if Gore did, can now step into the race and will likely be the initial leader in the polls. The surveys before Gore withdrew had Lieberman leading the rest of the pack; the former vice president's departure can only add to this initial lead.

The Connecticut senator could have a big edge in the '04 contest. The independent vote, which was split between McCain and Bradley in the 2000 primaries, will now be concentrated in the Democratic primary (since there will be no GOP contest). This vote, notoriously moderate, is not likely to back a liberal like Sen. John Kerry, but will probably be much more supportive of a centrist like Lieberman.

Inside the tall, well-groomed Massachusetts senator is a small Mike Dukakis trying to be heard. Kerry also has problems with his wife and her money. Their often tempestuous relationship (and her references to the late Sen. John Heinz as "my husband") are going to make very good copy. That red spot on his chest is not blood - it's ketchup.

Joe Lieberman grows on you. He is probably the single best example of integrity in the Senate. When he stood up and criticized Clinton's behavior during the Lewinsky mess, everybody listened hard.

And the very fact that Lieberman kept his promise and did not run while Gore was considering his options speaks well of him. How many other politicians would feel morally obliged not to challenge the man who had chosen them to run for vice president?

Lieberman's base and Gore's are quite different; a Gore candidacy would do no more injury to Lieberman than to any other contender. But the Connecticut senator felt it would be unethical of him to have run if Gore ran. "Unethical": a word most politicians couldn't even pronounce.

Lieberman is too klutzy to seem phony. He comes across as a mensch - a real person rather than a media-groomed, airbrushed, charismatic superstar.

He seems like a man of conscience because he is one. He is willing to take unpopular positions and he often does. The public may be looking for a man they can trust - and they'll like what the see in Lieberman.

Neither Sen. Tom Daschle nor Rep. Dick Gephardt will last long once the primaries start. No legislative leader has ever been elected president in his own right. Dole tried in 1996, LBJ in 1960, Taft in 1952, and Gingrich flirted with the idea in 2000. The compromises and deals one has to make - and the constant public partisanship - do not wear well on the voters. Both Democratic leaders have very high negatives in most polls.

This race will likely come down to three senators: Kerry, John Edwards (D-N.C.) and Lieberman. In that contest, Lieberman's integrity, stability and centrism could make all the difference.

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.

Up

12/17/02: In defense of Lott
12/02/02: An issue for Bush: Drugs
11/27/02: Women gone wobbly?
11/25/02: The U.N. over a barrel
11/15/02: Gore's suicide
11/15/02 One-party control is an illusion
11/13/02 The House of Extremes
11/08/02 I have egg on my face
11/01/02 Is Bush losing control over events?
10/25/02What is causing Bush's free fall?
10/25/02: Anybody sense a trend?
10/23/02: A deadline for Iraq
10/18/02: Only sure bet of 2002 elections is voter angst
10/16/02: Endangered incumbents
10/11/02: Why multilateralism doesn't work
10/09/02: Hey, Dems: Believe NYTimes polling at your own risk
10/03/02: Dem suicide: Let's count the ways
09/30/02: The Dems just can't stop themselves
09/26/02: The perils of polling
09/19/02: W. boxed in the U.N.
09/19/02: Welfare reform: Keep on keeping on
09/12/02: Are Dems insane on Iraq?
09/09/02: Twin shadows of Election '02
09/05/02: GOP should triangulate
08/28/02: Trust the military
08/22/02: It's not the economy, stupid
08/09/02: As America unites, Gore goes divisive
08/01/02: Bush must focus on big picture
07/23/02: Election 2002: Advantage Dems
07/19/02: Rudy for SEC tough cop
07/17/02: The investor strike
07/15/02: Door open for drug testing students --- go for it, GOP!
07/12/02: Dubya looking out for No. 1?
07/03/02: The DNA war for Bush's soul
06/21/02: Why are conservatives winning?
06/19/02: Learning to love the feds
06/14/02: Hey, journalists and Dems: Dubya is doing just fine
06/12/02: It's terrorism, stupid!
06/10/02: Sanctions are a potent weapon
06/04/02: Al Qaeda's more dangerous new front
05/31/02: Why '04 looks tough for liberal Dems
05/24/02: Democratic self-destruction
05/22/02: The Clinton failures
05/15/02: Pataki positioned to win
05/08/02: A wakeup-call for American Jewry
05/03/02: Give Bush back his focus
05/01/02: Immigration fault li(n)es
04/25/02: It's the war, stupid
04/17/02: Bush goes small bore
04/12/02: Bush must be a gentle partisan
04/10/02: In defense of polling
04/08/02: Focus on Iraq, not the Palestinians
04/01/02: Only Internet will bring real campaign finance reform
03/27/02: Where W's drawn a line in the sand
03/22/02: Enron scandal will not trigger a wave of economic populism
03/20/02: Term-limited --- by war
03/15/02: Europe doesn't have a clue
03/11/02: Bush popularity = GOP win?
03/01/02: Will America be forced to chase its tail in its war on terrorism?
02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed
02/21/02: Campaign finance reform won't hurt GOPers
02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
02/11/02: U.S. 'unilateralism'? The Europeans don't have a case
02/06/02: WAR: What women want
02/01/02: They all talk in the end
01/30/01: The odd couple: Chris Dodd and Arthur Andersen
01/22/01: His father's son? Bush better get an 'Act II' fast!
01/18/01: Dubya & the 'vision thing'
01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine 01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2002, Dick Morris