The Jewish Candidate?
Lieberman's views and Lieberman's religion are on center stage.
MATTHEW E. BERGER
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
way the Rev. Al Sharpton, who also intends to run,
will be seen as an African-American candidate.
"I think outside the Jewish community, the only
ones who will look at him as a Jewish candidate are
the bigots and the anti-Semites, who are a minority,"
Foxman chastised Lieberman when he ran for vice
president in 2000 for often referring to faith and
God in his speeches and for advocating a greater role
for faith in American life. But on Monday,
Kennedy told my generation, which is that here on
earth, God's work must truly be our own."
A senator from Connecticut since 1989,
Lieberman became a household name when he was
chosen as the Democratic vice presidential nominee
to run with then-Vice President Al Gore.
Although the Democratic ticket lost the race to
President Bush, Gore won the popular vote, a point
that Lieberman highlighted on Monday.
hen he ran for class president of
Stamford High School in 1960, Sen.
Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., says he faced
no bigotry because he was Jewish.
Now, as a candidate for president of the United
States, he's hoping for the same treatment — and
the same victory from a national audience.
Lieberman officially entered the race for the
Jews say Lieberman's bid — coming
presidency Jan. 13, announcing that he was filing
observant Jew with strong ties to the
papers to seek the Democratic nomination in
American Jewish community — is a historic
moment and a sign of the accomplishments
Lieberman enters a strong field that includes
Jews have been able to achieve in the 60 years
two fellow senators — with the possibility of a
since the Holocaust. Lieberman and his wife,
third entering soon — a former Democratic
Hadassah, frequently mentioned this as they
leader in the House, a liberal Northeast gover-
campaigned in 20001.
nor and a civil rights activist.
"I said to Joe that I was thinking about
Lieberman is one of the first Jewish candi-
how my presence here was a victory, a victory
dates in U.S. history to seek the White House
over evil, over people who wanted us dead,"
and the only one who is considered to have a
Hadassah wrote in a recently published book,
An Amazing Adventure: Joe and Hadassah's
Among American Jews, he has almost an
Personal Notes on the 2000 Campaign.
angelic status, considered a groundbreaker for
"Here I am, the daughter of survivors, mar-
others to follow. But he has also been a contro-
ried to a United States senator in a great, free
versial figure at times, taking stands that buck
country" she wrote. 'And I said, 'I'm think-
the views of the majority of American Jews and
ing about how my fist is up in the air to
liberals, and consistently evoking faith in his
On Monday, she said, "Obviously it's his-
While many in the Jewish community say
toric. He's breaking a glass ceiling. But it's
Lieberman's candidacy represents an important
important to see him as a candidate who's
achievement for Jews in the United States,
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., launches his bidfor the White
a politician for quite awhile now."
there is confusion over exactly how to view
House from his alma mater, Stamford High School, on Jan. 13.
Only two other Jews have sought a major
party nomination for the presidency, accord-
Is he the Jewish candidate or just another
ing to the book Jews in American Politics: Sen. Arlen
Lieberman indicated that his style of campaigning
political candidate who happens to be Jewish? And
Specter, R-Pa., pursued the Republican nomination
would continue through 2004.
will Jews see it differently than the rest of the
in 1996 but dropped out before the first primary,
Lieberman said he would not hesitate to invoke
and the late Milton Shapp, former governor of
faith and God's name, when it comes naturally,
Pennsylvania, ran briefly for the Democratic nomi-
while on the campaign trail.
nation in 1976.
He cited the Declaration of Independence as the
Lieberman's base of support outside the Jewish
source that American political power comes from
At his news conference on Monday, Lieberman held
community is expected to come from environmen-
the creator. "I think if the spirit moves me on occa-
himself up as the man for all Americans. "I'm run-
talists, moderate and conservative Democrats, hawk-
sion to say a word or two of faith, I think it's a very
ning because of the ideas I have for our nation's
ish and pro-defense segments of the party and the
American thing to do," Lieberman said to a strong
future and how to make it better," he said at his
business community in the New York metropolitan
round of applause.
high school alma mater.
area. He is also expected to have strong support
And Lieberman set that tone Monday in his
"I'm not running on my faith," Lieberman said.
announcement speech. "Every day along the way, I • among Democrats in Florida, California and Texas.
"But the fact is my faith is at the center of who I am
While there is clearly excitement about his candi-
will feel blessed by God to live in a land where our
and I'm not going to conceal that."
dacy, Jewish leaders and donors are not throwing
dreams can come true," Lieberman said, flanked by
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-
their support behind Lieberman. In addition to his
his family and classmates from the school.
Defamation League, said he does not think
focus on faith, Lieberman's positions on some issues
"And every day, I will remember what President
Lieberman will be seen as a Jewish candidate the