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. Debby

    Reid is an idiot. I think Lieberman should just pick up and leave. The liberal Senate will be down another seat who cares.

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


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

    He should be removed from his chairmanship position but he gets to choose who he caucases with.

    November 6, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  4. No Koolaid thanks.

    Lieberman did not drink the leftist Koolaid so they booted him out.
    So much for the party of tolerance

    November 6, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  5. John

    The Democratic party loses nothing by adopting a forgive and forget stance and welcoming Lieberman back into the party. For purely pragmatic, rather than emotional reasons, I'd say let bygones be bygones and officially add him as another Democrat (instead of an independent) into the Senate. The party could probably attach a few strings to ensure proper voting on ALL issues.

    November 6, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. California Gold

    I hope both politicians can resolve these matters. Many are perplexed by Lieberman's voting record and political conduct during the McCain campaign. Maybe he'll just come out of the closet as another politician who can't be trusted and whose words are hollow.

    November 6, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. MikefromWV

    Senator Lieberman exhibited a great deal of personal courage in his decision to back Senator McCain. HOWEVER, I personally believe that his decision was incorrect and for that there must be some type of consequences he must face. He chose to dance, now he must pay the piper!! The Democratic Party does not "need" his vote, or his continued participation in their caucus. He should be stripped of his committee chairmanship and removed from the Democratic Caucus. Let him caucus with the Republicans. They deserve him.

    November 6, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  8. No Koolaid for me thanks.

    Lieberman did not drink the leftist Koolaid so they booted him out.
    So much for the party of tolerance!

    November 6, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  9. Chris

    At what point did it become the law that by being a Democrat, you had to back the Democratic presidential campaign? Can Joe not have a mind of his own? The same people who pour praise on Colin Powell for having the courage to back Obama need to realize that Lieberman went out on limb, too.

    I may think he's crazy for supporting McCain, but he's the only high-profile Democrat brave enough to make his alternative views known. They can kick him out of his offices, kick him out of the caucus, and make all attempts to get him out of the Senate, but I bet he sleeps great at night.

    We all wish for honest government officials who follow their hearts and not the status quo, but then we bash those who do it. Joe went with his conscience and not what Harry and the others told him to do. Even though I don't agree with him, good for him for doing it.

    November 6, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  10. Helene

    That repulsive creature, that Judas should be KICKED OUT of the democratic party. He should move to Arizona to be close to his mentor.

    November 6, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  11. big daddy


    November 6, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  12. Andrew

    I voted for my new President and am a Democrat
    but that's why this Country is such a great country
    We are all entitled to our opinion and decisions
    Let Joe be Joe
    here is a great opportunity to show that this is a new era in Politics
    no more slash and burn

    November 6, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  13. Yes to Obama

    JUST kick him out.....If he is our friend I would have a tuff time defining who is our enemy...he is as much of an opponent as McCain, Bush Chaney or anyone else in teh republican party...WHAT MAKES THIS MAN A DEMOCRAT??????????????????

    November 6, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  14. Chris

    This is what's wrong with American politics. You can't have an independent thinker in either party otherwise they are ostracized and condemned.

    No I didn't agree with Lieberman on a lot of things, but he should at least have the freedom to decide which stances he will choose on his own. It is well known the war in Iraq was very important to him, so he choose McCain. He should not be kicked out of his party just because he is an independent thinker.

    November 6, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  15. Shane

    Hate to break the bad news to you but it's the other way around. The Democratic party turned on Joe they actively campaigned against him in his last election got another candidate to win the primary and then campaigned hard to defeat when he ran as an independent.

    November 6, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  16. Hugo

    Kick Liebermann to the curb!!!!

    November 6, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  17. Tim

    Here's an option....retirement.

    November 6, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  18. The Value of Trust?

    The saying goes "keep your enemies closer." But in this case perhaps the Democrats should keep a careful distance from Lieberman. His actions goes against the Democrat's efforts of uniting parties. Listen, he aboned the Democrat party and switched over to Republicans. That said he can be forgiven, but not trusted.

    November 6, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  19. Wally©

    First he plants a knife in Obama's back...

    Now he's 'pondering' his options ?!

    Talk about presumptuousness !!!

    November 6, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  20. Bit

    Leiberman threw Obama under the bus at the RNC Convention and now wants reconcilliation.

    November 6, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  21. cool onlooker

    Judas in the Dem's.

    Why is CNN still putting such a loser under the spotlight?

    November 6, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  22. Cynthia a conservative voter

    There does need to be any hard feelings here. Joe showed openly who he supports. Give him credit for that. It's not being nasty to take his chairmanships away, after all he openly support McCain, a member of the other party. Joe knows by doing that, he would lose those chairmanships. Reed keep him in those positions longer than many would expect. Joe must accept the fate for his decision. That is not payback, it's just part of politics of party loyality of which Joe did not have. Those chairmanships should be placed with those who are valiant.

    November 6, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  23. anonymous

    Any Harry Reid is better?

    November 6, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  24. Josh

    Not surprised that crazy liberals can't even tell the difference between succeed and secede. Apparently anyone who is not a crazy liberal is a traitor; that's a good way to unite the county, m.

    November 6, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  25. Dave

    here's a good option, Joe: drop kick Harry into next week and tell him i don't need your sorry A.

    November 6, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
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