Tuesday, August 08, 2000

Tristate calls pick 'inspired'

Democrats like Lieberman

By Howard Wilkinson and Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The more Democrats in Ohio and Kentucky think about the surprise selection of Sen. Joseph Lieberman as Al Gore's running mate, the more they like it.

        Democrats locally thought Mr. Gore would look elsewhere in the Senate, perhaps to Evan Bayh of Indiana or John Kerry of Massachusetts.

        But Monday, they were hailing the choice as inspired.

        “I'm glad he broke the mold a little bit and did something different,” said Tim Burke, co-chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party.

        The mold broken by Mr. Gore was that he chose an Orthodox Jew as a running mate — the first Jewish person on a major party ticket.

        In 1998, Mr. Lieberman was the first Democrat of stature to publicly chastise President Clinton for his behavior in the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, though he stopped short of calling for the president's resignation or impeachment.

        Some Republicans were saying Monday that, by choosing Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Gore is trying to distance himself from the president's problems.

        “I think it's a good pick for Gore, but I also think he is trying for some cover because of Bill Clinton,” said Hayes Robertson of Covington, a GOP strategist and campaign consultant.

        Mr. Burke said it was probably “wise” of Mr. Gore to pick a running mate who is “not part of the Clinton block.”

        “He has a clean and high-integrity image,” Mr. Burke said. “That will help.”

        U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas, a Richwood Democrat and delegate to the Democratic National Convention, called Mr. Lieberman's selection “a good, solid pick.”

        Democrats said bashing Mr. Clinton in the election is not going to elect George W. Bush to the White House.

        “That issue of Bill Clinton's zipper just isn't going to have any legs,” said Terry Mann of Fort Thomas, a member of the Campbell County Democratic Executive Committee.

        The selection of Mr. Lieberman will probably sit well with organized labor, one of the principal constituency groups of the Democratic party, said Dan Radford, executive secretary-treasurer of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council.

        Mr. Lieberman has an 80 percent record of voting with labor on major issues in this Congress, Mr. Radford said.

        “He's shown he is on the side of working families on issues like a patient's bill of rights and the minimum wage,” Mr. Radford said. “He's solid.”

        Stan Chesley, the Cincinnati lawyer who has raised millions for Democratic causes during the Clinton years, is also Jewish and a good friend of the second-term senator.

        Mr. Chesley said he does not believe that the senator's religion will become an issue in the race, as John F. Kennedy's Catholicism did in the presidential race 40 years ago.

Jewish leaders say Lieberman optimistic choice
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