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

Lieberman pondering 'options' after Reid meeting

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Mark

    Not only have the readers won the election, their mean spirited reaction to Mr. Lieberman is hopefully not suggestive of the tone the new administration will take in dealing with those people whose opinions differ than their own.

    November 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  2. Franklin T,, Florida

    Joseph Lieberman has been convicted by the Democratic Party and it is time for him to be punished and face consequences of his offensive, misguided actions.

    It was more than fine for Lieberman to extend support and speak at the Republican Convention for his friend, Sen. John McCain. What he did wrong was his continuous unfair attacks and troubling innuendos against President-elect Obama, a member of his own caucus.

    Reid must set a clear example that such behavior will not be tolerated, especially, not from an individual who was the standard barrier for the Party just 8 years ago.

    Lieberman must go!

    November 6, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  3. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Just go away.... what a creep

    November 6, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  4. conservative

    Wow ;talk about Lieberman meeting with a mental giant! ( hapless Harry)

    November 6, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  5. Someday a Blue ND

    As much as I'd like to join in the chorus for kicking him out. I don't think that would be a good way to start off our uniting theme. I say we keep him, but make sure he knows that he's got a lot of trust and respect to re-earn.

    November 6, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  6. Concerned Democrat

    While I don't agree with Lieberman on his support of McCain, I think this is a perfect test case for showing that politics can be different.

    We should be reaching out to Republicans. How can we justify not reaching out to Lieberman? Show the world that the Democratic party is above partisan squabbling and willing to roll up its sleeves and get down to work solving this country's problems.

    "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."
    —Matthew 5:38-42, NIV

    November 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  7. DaProfessor

    Oust Joe Lieberman on his ear!

    We can wait two years to pick up another few Democrat Senators. Meanwhile, I think several Republican Senators may either re-register as Democartas or vote with them.

    Imagine, a President who is on top of 21st Century communication methodology. The web site is a major step in the right direction.

    Bush, Cheney, Palin, DeLay, and friends really missed the boat! Imagine how many lies they could have voiced via a website and Email. It boggles the mind.

    November 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  8. Lex Blanton

    Lieberman reminds me of Gollum – always after the ring – even to his destruction in the flames of Mt. Doom.

    November 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  9. ANGIE

    BYE BYE JOE See ya ,had Enough of ya, I do belive your losing party (Republicans) Need a little Help!

    November 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  10. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    After Judas kissed Jesus what did he do next?? Read the book and find out!

    November 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  11. James

    Wow, so hostile to the man who kept the Dems in the majority for the last two years. He could have caucused with the Repubs and split the Senate 50-50 (with Cheney having the tie breaker) but chose to stick with the Dems.
    Now that they have a majority on their own, the Dems want to throw Joe under the bus? Looks like a little mean spiritedness has come into the Senate.
    I hope the Dems can rise above this mean spiritedness.

    November 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  12. why

    Wow, I'm shocked at all the hate here. Can't a man change his mind based on principle? The comments in this section are a perfect example of the bitterness and anger that Barack Obama has promised to avoid. Hey democrats, take a cue from your new leader – tone down the hateful rhetoric.

    November 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  13. sammy

    "Traitor?" "Pathetic?" "Bring out the knives?" So much for "unity" and bringing people together – clearly the posters on this thread are nothing more than partisan shills.

    November 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  14. Dr. O

    How about Lieberman for Secretary of Defense? It would let him continue his hawkishness and get him out of the Senate. CT can elect an actual Democrat to fill his place. Republicans would have a hard time arguing he was not a good choice after relying on him during the McCain campaign.

    November 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  15. Patrick

    The people talking bad about Lieberman are such hypocrits. You call for unity but because someone has the courage to stand against their own party you want to throw him under a bus? More people should be independent thinks like him. I have more respect for him than almost all other memebers of congress combined.

    November 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  16. MK from CO

    He should just let go all the pretenses, show true color (I am sure he already did during last 6+ months), and just join the republican caucus. That way he can at least be in peace with himself.

    November 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  17. New Day

    Way to adopt Obama's message of unity, guys. We can't preach the virues of non-partisanship and then slam a guy who endorsed a political rival and friend.

    I hope Lieberban, as well as every member of Congress comes together and makes the country better.

    November 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  18. namby-pamby

    I thought we were so thankful that the country is beginning to come together. Isn't there room in our hearts for someone who is (however misguided :)) on his own personal quest?

    November 6, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  19. Steve in DC

    Go home Joe the Lieberman!!!

    November 6, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. Jose, San Diego

    Notice how the Palin people became more conciliatory as the Obama victory approached and materialized? Suddenly Lieberman thought Obama was a swell guy. What a sleazy opportunist. Speaking of which, CNN conservative shill Ruben Navarrette is kissing some serious Obama presidential posterior today - afraid it will now be hard to justify your well-padded soapbox? Be gone, go help Bible Spice with her 2012 presidential campaign.

    November 6, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. mike

    I 'm sure the options and offers are just pouring in for for good old Joe. Here's one, maybe he can shine Barack's shoes!

    November 6, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  22. WHO ME?

    We all just witenessed history, and now we need unity within the country and in Washington. We must follow Obama's lead and unite. Saying that, keep your enemies closer. Keep Joe around for now on a tight leash and then when he runs for re-election, remind him on what side he was out stomping for.

    November 6, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  23. Andre from NJ

    I don't see what the problem is, he sided with someone he believed in and didn't just mindlessly follow the pack. If they are that upset with him, he should just declare himself independent and break all party ties. Seeing as we definitely need more third party types in washington

    November 6, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  24. Mark from AR

    Joe needs to go! He is a traitor.

    November 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. Frank

    Joe needs to go – no options, no appeals, he's no longer a democrat. He rolled the dice and lost now it's time to leave the table.

    November 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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