November 6th, 2008
04:30 PM ET
5 years ago

Lieberman pondering 'options' after Reid meeting

Lieberman met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Thursday.
Lieberman met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Thursday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Connecticut independent Sen. Joe Lieberman said Thursday he needs a few days to ponder "the options that I have before me" after a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Lieberman did not explain what those options were when he made brief remarks to reporters, and Reid said afterward that no decisions have been made.

Watch: 'We must unite' Lieberman says

Lieberman, the Democratic Party's 2000 vice presidential nominee, supported Republican Sen. John McCain in Tuesday's presidential election. But after Democratic Sen. Barack Obama's victory over McCain, the Connecticut senator said it was time to unite behind the incoming president.

"I decided in that election that partisanship should take a back seat to doing what I believed was best for our country," he said. "But the election is over, and I completely agree with President-elect Obama that we must now unite to get the economy going again and keep the American people safe."

Lieberman's continued allegiance to the Democratic caucus has given the party a 51-49 majority in the Senate since 2006, and he holds the chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. But his support of McCain - and sometimes-harsh criticism of Obama - angered many of his colleagues.

Updated with Reid statement

When Obama returned to the Senate in June after clinching the Democratic presidential nomination, he pulled Lieberman into a corner of the Senate chamber for a lengthy and animated one-on-one conversation in full view but out of earshot of reporters.

Lieberman has been an outspoken supporter of the war in Iraq, backing the Bush administration at a time when the Democratic leadership in Congress has been trying to force an end to the widely unpopular conflict. He lost his home state's Democratic primary to an anti-war challenger in 2006, only to win a fourth Senate term as an independent.

Reid, D-Nevada, was reluctant to act against Lieberman when his control of the chamber relied on the Connecticut senator's vote. But a top aide to the majority leader told reporters in September, after Lieberman spoke to the Republican National Convention, that the caucus would "reassess the situation"
after the election.

With Democrats gaining at least five seats on Tuesday, Reid summoned Lieberman to discuss his future with the caucus. In a statement issued after the meeting, Reid said Thursday's meeting was "the first of what I expect to be several conversations."

"While I understand that Senator Lieberman has voted with Democrats a majority of the time, his comments and actions have raised serious concerns among many in our caucus," he said. "I expect there to be additional discussions in the days to come, and Senator Lieberman and I will speak to our
caucus in two weeks to discuss further steps."

Reid could move to strip Lieberman of his committee chairmanship or other committee seats. The full Democratic caucus would have to approve any action when it meets again in two weeks.

Lieberman said he had "a very good conversation" with Reid, but disclosed no details and took no questions.

"I want to spend some time in the next few days thinking about what Sen. Reid and I discussed and what my options are at this point," he said. "He promised me that he would do the same, and we will continue these conversations."


Filed under: Joe Lieberman
soundoff (259 Responses)
  1. CC from Chicago

    I understand people say it's hypocritcal to oust Joey, but lets face it, he want's he ran as a Dem as VP then didn't like the fact that he got beat in a primary then decided he was a Ind. Well then he not only participated in the RNC but spoke rather ill of Obama along the campaign. You can't really expect to be part of a party that you are campaigning against. It goes way past being a maverick. Now he's sucking up saying that Obama is a good guy and he's always thought well of him. Give him the boot and take him off any committees, let him find himself.

    November 6, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  2. Sue in Michigan

    These comments show that people are still not about to reach across the isle and work together unless it is only by their rules. We need more independents like Joe...whether they lean to the left or to the right of center, as these are the folks who will truly reach across the isle to get things done. We need many more moderates and independents. It is the inflexible of each party that give us independents hearburn as they accomplish nothing.

    November 6, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  3. Melissa

    It won't matter in 2 years when CT votes him out.

    November 6, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  4. Bridgette-PA

    He's lieing! This is how the meeting went:

    Lieberman: "wait a minute Reid, before you say anything, let me apologize for my behavior against the democrats the past year or so"

    Reid: "No need to apologize, you were more than welcome to campaign with the party of your choice"

    Lieberman: "whew, I thought you were going to kick me to curb and let a bus run over me. However, I'm glad to see you put our friendship over politics"

    Reid: "Are you now going to admit that you are a Republican?"

    Lieberman: "Why no, I'm not. I am a full fledged Independent"

    Reid: "Joe, I watched you closely at every McCain rally. I have replayed your RNC speech over and over until I could cite it verbatim. You are not an Independent, you are a Republican and that's OK. President OBAMA will reach across the aisle to move this country in a better direction; he just will not be reaching for you"

    Lieberman: "Please, talk to OBAMA and BIDEN. PLEASE! ASK THEM TO FORGIVE ME!"

    Reid: "No need, Joe, no need"

    November 6, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  5. duker61

    He has the courage to vote his conscience. More of our elected representatives should have that courage.

    November 6, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  6. Leah from FL

    President Obama: Get this man as far away from you as possible!! He has proved he's not to be trusted. I know you are intelligent enough to see right through him and will take the necessary steps to avoid having him around.

    November 6, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  7. Salliesue

    Let his constituents decide – they voted in a Democrat, so let's see if they still want him in his current condition. Frankly, I think he backed McCain so he could have another shot at the vice-presidency!

    November 6, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. (Sunshine4U)

    Joe Liebermann is a sell-out and he has proven it as well as have shown it. He needs to be ousted from that position and from the party. He so happily backed McCain and degraded Barack Obama during the RNC. And now he wants to pretend his intentions are good towards President-elect Obama? What a bunch of bull and crap he's spewing now. I wouldn't trust Liebermann for nothing in this world. Because if he had to do it all over again in backing McCain, he would with a Democrat title before his name. Get rid of him, please, for the sake of the Democratic party and how he has betrayed them.

    November 6, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. HerbTee

    Joe Liebermann is a rank traitor to the Democratic Party and he should be immeidately excised like the cancer he is. I hope the good citizens of Connecticut see fit to can him in their next Senate election and replace him with a real Democrat!

    November 6, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  10. Kate, New York

    Even though it would give the Republicans another seat, I think he should switch. He spoke at the Republican convention and then campaigned with McCain.

    Kick him to the curb!

    November 6, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  11. Chris

    I bet that meeting was a real barn-burner!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Chris from NC

    November 6, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  12. frank Honolulu HI

    It's like having a rat in a nest of kittens.

    November 6, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  13. vahe

    go to arizona with Mcdrill... ahaha what goes areound what comes around

    November 6, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  14. Johnny V

    What happened in the meeting was that Reid gave Lieberman a one-way ticket to political Siberia.

    November 6, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  15. Ya_Ya

    My issue with him was not his support of McCain. (Although I didn't like it I could deal with it). My issue is the ways he spoke of Obama at the RNC convention. I would think that he would be happier among 'like minded' (read REPUBLICAN), individuals.

    On another note, I find is somewhat amusing that all the people who are criticizing the Democrats for being a little harsh, and not heeding the call to unity should remember which side STARTED the name calling. They thought they were bringing a knife to a fist fight and when they (too late) realized that they brought a knife to a GUN FIGHT now they want to cry UNCLE. They side got everyone whipped into a frenzy, and although it may not be pretty to watch I know that it will soon settle down.

    November 6, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  16. John

    I respect Joe Lieberman, even if I did not agree with him in the presidential election. There is room for free thinkers in the Democratic party, that is why they call us Democratic. In the spirit of Obama's inclusive message, I would welcome Joe Lieberman back in the Democratic party if he choses to come back. With the problems we face in this country, we need all talented Americans who are willing to work with us to fix them.

    November 6, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  17. Capurnia

    Joe Loser Lieberman. He was a worse traitor than Judas. And he did his leap of faith into the jaws of the GOP shark for no other reason but political protection. Unfortunately, he miscalculated and hurled himself into the wrong jaws of a snapping crocodile Palin. And what a mauling he got. Good Bye Joe the Clapper! Joe the Lizard, you went down the plumbing with the rest of McKKKain's sand bags. And where's the other one? Joe the SKKKinhead?

    November 6, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  18. Caligirl

    Lieberman should redefine who he is and should not caucus with the Dems. I do want to see both parties come together but, I'm sure there will still be times that the Dems caucus with the Dems and the Repubs caucus with the Repubs. Sen. Lieberman should either causus with the Repubs or act as an independent.

    November 6, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  19. johnny

    this guy goes whatever way the wind blows.

    November 6, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  20. Karen

    Good for you Harry Reid!!

    November 6, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  21. Marc from San Diego

    Trader Joe, don't let the door hit you on the way out. There is a cozy spot for you over in the "party of inclusion."

    November 6, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  22. leper lieberman

    The is no room in the democratic party for an Independent thinker

    November 6, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  23. bill

    Listen to yourselves people. You have questioned his patriotism, his Jewishness and hinvited him to rest in hell.

    I , as a conservative, was just a bit concerned that Obamas call for unity might actually survive 72 hours and it would be a solidifying sign of support for Obama if the first effort was for Reid to say , we have disagreed, but you a poplular figure in your State and your opinions are welcome here.

    As predictible as it is disturbing, though, I can see that the most of the Dems, at least he ones who post here, believe the path to unity is by disguarding and slandering all those that would dare defy the man in whom they have voted to do all thinking for them.

    We believe whatever Barack says, he will change, we will change, he says its good for us, our values will be whatever he wants them to be. We will protect all he is and stay energized by destorying any detractors.

    November 6, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  24. God

    He is the biggest mistake Connecticut has ever voted for. I voted for Ned Lamont, even though he looked like Ned Flanders, Ned Lamont was the man.

    BYE JOE! YOU ARE HORRIBLE!

    November 6, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  25. Greg

    We should all come together. But Joe shouldn't hold his chairmanship. That position should go to a Democrat and not someone who was beat in the Democratic primary in his state. In addition, he jumped onto the McCain slime express and lied about Obama. Actions like that do not earn you reward within your party. But wait, Joe is an Independent so he shouldn't hold that position anyway.

    November 6, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
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