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February 06, 2004 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-02-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Sate Now in Progress!

Election 2004/Analysis

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MATTHEW E. BERGER
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Arlington, Va.
our years ago, he was the
toast of the Jewish world, the
favorite son who became a
symbol of opportunity for
American Jews in the United States.
But when he went out on his own this
time around, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-
Conn., failed to catch on as a top-tier
candidate.
Lieberman formally stepped down
Tuesday night, after failing to win any of
the nine primaries or caucuses since the
presidential season began. He came in
second in only one of seven contests
Tuesday, in Delaware where he finished a
distant second to Sen. John Kerry, D-
Mass. What went wrong? Was his reli-
gion a factor — especially for Jews? Are
his politics out of sync with Democratic
voters? Was it his style?
When Lieberman announced his can-
didacy in January 2003, he had the best
name recognition among the
Democratic hopefuls because of his
exposure as the vice presidential nominee
on the 2000 ticket with Al Gore.
But even as he was leading in the polls
then, political analysts did not consider
him in the top tier of candidates.
There are many explanations for
Lieberman's fall. Some say it was politi-
cal. Lieberman is a moderate on social,
economic and political issues, someone
who supported the Iraq war and was
campaigning among a Democratic elec-
torate angered by the Bush administra-
tion's handling of Iraq and its domestic
policies.
In his concession remarks, Lieberman
said: "We have strived to stay true to
ourselves, true to our beliefs and true to
what we believe is best for this great
country. I have always believed. in work-
ing across party lines to get things done,
and putting the national interest above
special interestss or partisan interests."
While that positioning might have served
him well against Bush in November, it
missed the point of Democratic primaries
— playing to the party's base.
Others say his mistakes were strategic,
suggesting that Lieberman had a sense of
entitlement because of the election con-
troversies of 2000 and therefore did not
lay the groundwork for his candidacy the

F

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Walk- fn s .
W e lc om e:

From favorite son to poor showing: What went
wrong for Joe Lieberman?

794080

Sen. Joe Lieberman

way his opponents did.
Then there is the Jewish question.
While no one expected Lieberman to
receive the full support of American
Jews, some Lieberman loyalists did not
anticipate the extent to which his candi-
dacy would be rejected by some in their
community.
Rabbi Irving "Yitz" Greenberg, presi-
dent of the Jewish Life Network
Foundation, and his wife Blu circulated
an article to Jewish newspapers this
week, arguing that Jews were acting like
anti-Semites, casting Lieberman aside
because of his Jewishness.
"The community blinked," Rabbi
Greenberg said, suggesting that
Lieberman's policies were "a good fit" for
Jews. A rise of anti-Semitism and anti-
Zionist sentiment around the world
brought old fears to the surface for many
Jews, he argued, and Jews looked for a
safer choice for president.
Marvin Lender, a member of
Lieberman's campaign board who raised
funds for him in the Jewish community,
suggested that Lieberman aides had
anticipated raising more money from the
Jewish community. He blames the fear as
one element, but says the Jewish com-
munity's political sophistication also hurt
Lieberman's chances.
"Many leaders of the Jewish comi -nu-
nity, the politically invested people, had
already made commitments," he said.
Indeed, many seasoned political
donors in the Jewish community had ties
to other candidates — such as Sen.
Kerry or Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-
Mo., or several of the candidates at once.
It was much easier to support Lieberman
in 2000, when he was not running
against other Democrats.
Not all Jewish analysts believe
Lieberman was hurt by his community.

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