Lieberman skips weekly lunch with irate Senate Democrats
(Corrected to reflect statement in last two paragraphs was by Reid’s spokesman, not Reid.)
WASHINGTON — Sen. Joseph Lieberman on Tuesday skipped the weekly luncheon meeting of congressional Democrats — many of whom denounce him as a turncoat for his support of White House contender John McCain at last week’s Republican National Convention.
A number of lawmakers have even said Lieberman of Connecticut might be stripped of his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in the new Congress next year if Democrats, as expected, increase their control of the Senate.
Lieberman, who refers to himself as an “independent Democrat”, has brushed off such talk. So has Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid — at least for now.
“His (Lieberman’s) approach is that he is going to do what he believes is right in support of John McCain, and let the politics play itself out,” said Marshall Wittmann, Lieberman’s communications director.
Lieberman, who eight years ago was the Democratic vice presidential nominee, could end up in McCain’s Republican administration if he defeats Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama in November’s White House election.
At the Republican convention, Lieberman criticized Obama and praised McCain as “the best choice to bring the country together and lead America forward.”
With Congress returning this week from its August recess, Lieberman informed Reid’s office that he won’t be attending any more meetings this year of the Senate Democratic caucus because he assumes they will be largely focused on presidential politics, aides said.
Reid and Lieberman’s office denied a published report that Lieberman was being barred from the meetings.
“While it is no secret that the Democratic caucus is disappointed in Senator Lieberman’s attacks on Senator Obama, the irresponsible report that Senator Lieberman has been excluded from caucus meetings is completely untrue,” Reid’s spokesman Jim Manley said in a statement.
“Senator Lieberman has chosen not to attend Democratic caucus lunches, and that’s his choice,” Manley said. With Lieberman generally allied with the Democrats, they hold a 51-49 majority over Republicans and control of the Senate.
– Photo credit: Reuters/Mike Segar (Lieberman with McCain at the Republican National Convention)