November 6th, 2008
04:30 PM ET
6 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. Wes

    Wow! I thought that the Democrats were the people that loved everybody and aren't they the ones saying that we NOW need to unite? I guess that means that everybody needs to unite and rubber stamp everything that the Democrats want. Hypocrits!!!!!!!!!

    November 6, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  2. Andy J, NY

    Yeah, he chose to exercise his own judgement and be his own man. To Harry Reid, this is a serious concern.

    Thinking independently and not being a slave to a single party's ideology raises some serious concerns?

    I should think it would be quite the opposite.

    November 6, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. Art H

    Kick the traitor out to the curb.

    He should have known, when he actively sowed doubts in the minds of elderly Jewish voters in Florida, about the democratic candidate for president, that a day will come when he will face reckoning. That day has come.

    The problem is that the republicans don't trust the slime-ball (hence he caucused with the dems) and now the dems don't want anything to do with him either (since they don't need him any longer). He should be shut out from anything of any significance in the senate, till his term is up. Good riddance.

    November 6, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. Don

    When will the hostility cease?

    People seem to be so absolutely vindictive and vengeful. We all live in the United States of America. The last time I checked we all have the right to pick and choose the political philosophy we are most comfortable with. Joe did that. In my opinion it is now time to unite the country and stop the petty bickering and posturing that gave the election campaign such an ugly face.

    November 6, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  5. Mr Brown

    Leebs thought McCain was going to win and now he may have to update his resume.

    Joe the Traitor

    November 6, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  6. Independent-Gurnee, IL

    Here's an option for you, Joe! RESIGN and move to Israel. That's the master you serve anyway!

    November 6, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  7. John

    Lieberman Must GO! I am very sorry but throughout this election year I am absolutely furious with this man. He has NO RIGHT to be called a democrat and I hope other democratic senators can realize that. Us democrats tried so very hard to get Senator Obama elected and for him to campaign for our rival upset me like no other.

    If Lieberman is not out of the democratic caucus and his positions aren't distributed to other deserving democrats that I QUIT this party.

    I don't normally use such strong words, but in this instance I am very adamant.

    November 6, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  8. Beck

    There is nothing wrong with standing for what you believe, but when a politician jumps parties in order to advance his career he/she should "stand" with the consequences ,win or lose. Joe pseudo-Independent (ie, Republican) should stand with his party he so eloquently defended and resign from the Dem-caucus.

    November 6, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  9. Obama-Biden '08

    OUT WITH LIEBERMAN!

    November 6, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  10. ines

    Did Lieberman just give an incoherent statement or what? Sounds to me like he got a resounding earful from Reid and was thrown off balance a little. Maybe an ultimatum, or two, was given & now he has to go think over his options.

    This guy is the ultimate flip-flop and deserves the hostility he's going to get in congress.

    November 6, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  11. Al Mellen

    Lieberman should go home with McCain...No doubts the umbical cord is still attached.

    November 6, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. Dj

    Sen. Reid,

    Please cut him loose. I think it is far better to work with this "Benedict Arnold" from ACROSS the aisle (as opposed to having an "fox in the hen house").

    He cannot not be trusted anymore.

    November 6, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. David

    So when exactly does all this "change" start taking place?
    Seems like the same old politics to me. Plus with Rahm Emmanuel in place, it seems like Obama talks the talk, but can't walk the walk.
    Liberals just cant change their spots

    November 6, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  14. Brooks Britt

    That turncoat little wimp should be sent packing. There is no room for him in the Democratic caucus. Let him huddle up with his Republican cronies.

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

    Does being Independent mean you can just flip flop from one party to the other whenver your like? My gosh, Joe. Make up your mind.

    November 6, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  16. Extremely Moderate, NJ

    All the idiots who want to tar & feather Joe Lieberman, consider this: There are good liberal Republicans and there are good conservative Democrats. Ideology isn't always perfectly aligned with party affiliation.

    Also consider the Iron Law of the Ruling Oligarchy: The victors always vanquish the losers...it's human nature. That's the CHANGE you people can all believe in.

    November 6, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  17. Sarkar

    Joe Loserman, We sould look at the interests of USA first, then other countries. When we are in serious crisis, Israel cannnot come first. USA is the greatest nation in the world, and this is the time we need to work on how to get the respect from the rest of the world. Poeple like you are doing just the opposite.

    November 6, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  18. Dee

    Reid hasn't done anything but meet with him...Joe will make his own decision of what to do...he knew that he would have to answer for his actions, regardless of whether they were right or wrong..there is a way to do things and a way NOT to do things..he chose the wrong one...

    November 6, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  19. Elaine

    Joe's support of McCain was all about the war – and likely his support for Israel. Like my father, who voted for the pro-life McCain, he has his convictions. He's been a good member in the Senate and, really, we need MORE independents. This two party system has been broken for a long time. That said, Go Obama!!!!

    November 6, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  20. Cindy

    Joe Leiberman is still a good guy. He was supporting his friend, not his friend's party. Friends do that sometimes.

    In the spirit of bi-partisanship... let bygones be bygones.

    November 6, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  21. Christopher

    Forget 60 seats, it's not going to happen with clueless Alaskans re-electing a convicted felon.

    Joe the Judas needs to go and he needs to go now. Good riddance.

    November 6, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  22. Greg Matthews WA

    Censure before expulsion. Reid's being pressured by whiners. Lieberman has a choice, too. I think he's weak and dislike him but he does have his vote to cast as he will.

    November 6, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  23. Alex

    I wonder if all of you would be saying the same thing if the Democrats had achieved a filibuster proof 60 seats. My guess is no. If Reid decides to push him out now it will show just how partisan he is (by waiting to see the results of other races before deciding on the best course of "action").

    November 6, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  24. Scott, Wichita

    Wow, someone who actually understands that party affiliation means NOTHING outside the government. Everyone who is so ridiculouly bitter about a guy who can support a good friend who happens to sit on the other side of the aisle also should be that vicious to the Republicans who crossed to vote for Obama. What? Didn't think about that? What hypocrits.

    November 6, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  25. Debbie

    Recall? Excommunication? They both sound good to me. I have to admit, much as it irked me in 2000, "Loserman" was probablyl the correct appellation.

    November 6, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
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