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Gore's endorsement of Dean most-stinging blow yet.
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"Had Lieberman been able to come
of the gate after a close defeat in
November 2000 and start running for
the 2004 nod immediately, he might
rom the beginning, Joe
have been unstoppable," Sabato said.
Lieberman's campaign for the
But Gore's extended indecision about
2004 Democratic presidential
running and Lieberman's promise meant
nomination has been dogged
"Lieberman was frozen in place for too
by stories about quiet resistance to his
long. Then came Iraq, and Lieberman
candidacy from Jewish voters and con-
just didn't fit the angry, hate-Bush mood
of most Democrats who vote in primar-
But this week, the Connecticut law-
ies and caucuses."
maker, once a frontrunner in the nomi-
"He's such a straight guy; he plays by
nation battle and still the candidate
the rules," said Gilbert Kahn, a Kean
some polls say has the best chance to
University political scientist and close
defeat President George W. Bush,
observer of the Jewish political scene.
received the most stinging blow yet, and
"He waited, and didn't try to push Gore;
it had nothing to do with the Jews.
that cost him the initial surge of money,
On Tuesday, former Vice President Al
and the frontrunner mantle, which he
Gore — the man who made history
had every reason to assume was his."
when he tapped Lieberman, an obser-
Lieberman's last-ditch strategy
vant Jew, as his running mate in
— pushing for strong showings
2000 — endorsed this year's
in Oklahoma and South
surprise frontrunner, former
Carolina and a Dean stall after
Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.
the first primaries — looks all
That was bad news for the
the more unrealistic in the face
handful of men with at least a
of the Gore endorsement, he
glimmer of hope for stopping
the Dean juggernaut, including
Lukewarm Jewish support may
Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., Lieberman
have been a factor in Lieberman's
Sen. John Kerry;D-Mass., and
campaign woes, but this week's
Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.
surprise move by Gore was a
But it was a particularly hard
staggering body blow, especially
blow to Lieberman, especially
since it was couched in a denun-
because he learned about the
ciation of the Iraq policies
endorsement through news sto-
Lieberman has backed.
ries, not a call from his old col-
The Dean surge is showing
signs of being unstoppable, and
The Gore endorsement will
the Republicans are already laying
make it harder for Lieberman and
the groundwork for their campaign
the others to close the big campaign
finance gap, and it could have a signifi-
Hawkish pro-Israel forces aren't both-
cant impact in the few major primaries
ering with groundwork; they're already
that are still competitive.
firing away, mostly anonymously.
"I've been around politics for decades,
so I know not to write off a candidacy
prematurely," said University of Virginia
political scientist Larry Sabato.."But if
Pro-Israel activists' electronic mailboxes
Gore's endorsement of Dean isn't a
have been flooded in recent days with
death blow to Lieberman, then it is
vitriolic anti-Dean messages portraying
near-fatal. How will he raise money and
the ex-governor, who has no foreign pol-
generate excitement when the man who
icy experience, as an outright enemy of
chose him for vice-president now says
the Jewish state.
someone else is more qualified to be in
The harshness of the messages
the Oval Office?"
Ironically, it was Lieberman's respect for prompted the Anti-Defamation League,
a nonpartisan group, to send a memo
Gore and his refusal to challenge his old
to the group's leadership referring to
running mate in 2004 that may have
the "unsigned 'chain letter"' and express-
fatally crippled his campaign from the
ing "concern" about its contents.
JAMES D. BESSER
. Office Staff
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