Tales from the Trail

McCain deeply regrets Lieberman decision to retire

Republican Senator John McCain has traveled the world as part of a “three amigos” group with Senate colleagues Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, and he is sad that Lieberman plans to retire when his term expires in 2012. POLITICS-LIEBERMAN/

McCain told us in a telephone interview that Lieberman told him that after 40 years in politics, “every once in a while you just get a little tired.”

Lieberman was Democrat Al Gore’s vice presidential nominee in 2000. In 2008, he backed McCain over Barack Obama and campaigned for him extensively.

“He’s truly not only an independent spirit but he goes where he thinks it’s best for the country. When he supported me there was no upside to that politically, none. And I will consider it one of the great honors of my life,” McCain said.

McCain said that while Lieberman faced a tough re-election fight, he believed he could have won “because he has such a deep reservoir of goodwill in Connecticut.”

Obama transport security pick avoids Iraq contract pothole

President Barack Obama’s pick to oversee U.S. transportation security appears to have dodged a major pothole on the road to being confirmed by the Senate after assuaging concerns about a government contract his old firm won to provide interrogators in Iraq.

Retired Major General Robert Harding was under the microscope at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday for his nomination to head the Transportation Security Administration, a job that has been filled on a temporary basis since Obama took office.

Harding spent more than three decades in the U.S. military, including a stint as deputy to the Army’s chief of intelligence and director for operations in the Defense Intelligence Agency. After retiring, he set up his own security consulting firm which he sold last year. SECURITY-AIRLINE/

Healthcare critic Lieberman silenced in Senate

USA-HEALTHCARE/Senator Joe Lieberman, who has forced Democrats to jump through hoops on healthcare reform in recent weeks, was effectively told to be quiet and sit down on Thursday.

Comedian turned freshman Senator Al Franken gave the order while presiding over the Senate to a surprised Lieberman.

“I object,” Franken said, denying Lieberman the unanimous consent that he needed for “an additional moment” to complete his floor speech on healthcare.

Calls growing for Congress to investigate Fort Hood gunman

hood2Amid the growing calls for congressional investigations into the Fort Hood rampage, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton is advocating a different approach — wait and see how investigations by the Army and the FBI progress.

“It is important that we get to the bottom of this incident, but we must be careful to proceed in a deliberate, studied manner that will not interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI and the Army’s criminal investigative service, Skelton, a Missouri Democrat, said on Tuesday. “Right now, we need to avoid jumping to any conclusions and give the Army and the FBI a chance to do their jobs.”

Calls for lawmakers to find answers came almost immediately
after 13 people were killed in a  shooting rampage at the Army post last week.

The First Draft: Democrats turn to Clinton in Senate healthcare push

Former President Bill Clinton is due to visit Capitol Hill today to talk healthcare reform with Senate Democrats and their independent allies. PHILANTHROPY-CLINTON/

The meeting’s important because Democrats have yet to find the 60 votes they need to stop Senate Republicans from blocking President Barack Obama’s signature domestic issue. House Democrats got their end of the job done over the weekend by passing landmark legislation.

Clinton’s presidency was overshadowed by his own failed bid to reform the healthcare system in the 1990s. But NBC said he could help sway Democrats wavering in the current debate, including Sen. Blanche Lincoln of his home state, Arkansas. CONGRESS BUDGET

The First Draft: US media’s Fort Hood coverage turns to militancy question

First came questions about whether anyone missed emotional signals that suspected Fort Hood shooter, Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, was close to cracking. Now U.S. media say Congress wants to know if he was also veering toward Islamist militancy. TEXAS-SHOOTING/

A preliminary review of Hasan’s computer has revealed no evidence of any connection to terror groups or conspirators, according to a report by CBS News.

But lawmakers have asked the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies to preserve documents on Hasan. That’s according to ABC News, which says the spooks believe he may have been trying to contact U.S.-born imam Anwar al Awlaki, who is based in Yemen and supports holy war against the West.

Politics aside, Al and Joe still friends

A lot has happened since the 2000 presidential race, when two Senate Democrats headed their party’s ticket in a losing campaign for the White House.

Al Gore, the former vice president and 2000 Democratic presidential nominee, went on to win a Nobel Peace Prize, an Oscar and a Grammy after his documentary on climate change.

gore

His running mate, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, left the Democratic party to become an independent, which put him in a position of power player in the Senate. And now he’s a pivotal force as the congressional healthcare debate inches toward resolution.

Lieberman offers congrats to Obama, pushes bipartisanship

WASHINGTON – Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, previously a Democrat now an independent, bucked his colleagues a lot this year including in what some considered the ultimate betrayal — backing the Republican presidential hopeful, John McCain, and for the less than kind words he had for Democrat Barack Obama.

But after Obama’s victory, Lieberman issued a statement congratulating him on his “historic and impressive” victory.

There have been some questions about whether Lieberman might no longer be welcome in the Democratic caucus, but Sen. Charles Schumer said last month that that issue would be dealt with after the election.

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.rtx8ewm.jpg

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: Obama shows “inexperience” over Georgia

TEANECK, N.J. – Former Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Lieberman slammed Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday over the Russian invasion of Georgia and said that the Democrat still wasn’t experienced enough for the White Housejoe.jpg.
“We’ve got a real clear choice to make. And I say it respectfully to Sen. Obama because he’s a gifted young man. But he’s not ready to be president on Jan. 20th of 2009,” Lieberman, of Connecticut, told a fund raising event for Republican hopeful John McCain.

“As the Russians move into Georgia as aggressors, and if you read the statements from the beginning, from Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama, one had a kind of moral neutrality to it that comes I think from inexperience.

“The other’s — Sen. McCain’s — was strong and clear and principled and put America where America always want to be, on the side of freedom,” he said while introducing McCain.