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. Moderate Democrat

    Democrats will never be able to have a private conversation with him in the room. That is the problem. It is one thing to disagree; it is another to distrust. At this point, no one trusts him. For that reason, he has got to go. That does not mean they can't work with him; it simply means they acknowledge that he is not a true Democrat.

    November 6, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  2. ednadavid

    Time for Joe Leiberman to move on and take his place on the Republican side of the senate. Who needs enemies with "friends" like him around.

    November 6, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  3. 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 caucus with the Repubs or act as an independent.

    November 6, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  4. Oren Ovadia, California

    Reid is an idiot and Pelosi is even worst. They Blame Liberman for standing on his believes. Please send a message to the DO NOTHING CONGRESS to fix our economy, rather than send money to Banks to pay their Back Checks. Drop down the home morgage rates that people want lose their homes.

    November 6, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  5. Helene

    Unity yes. But with that man who not only supported and carried McCain but went out of his way at the Republican Convention to talk maliciously and viciously about Barack ? NO

    November 6, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  6. kirbs

    Democrats - where tolerance means "we'll tolerate you if you do and say everything we think you should".

    November 6, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  7. Lisa P

    Much as I would love to see Lieberman slapped down, I think Obama is smart enough to know that he's going to need the GOP on board to get the US out of the ditch Bush has left us in, and that how Lieberman is treated will provide an important test case for the new administration's commitment to bipartisan solutions. I hope Reid knows that too. And it's not like Lieberman is so out of line with most Democratic positions... he probably shouldn't be heading the Homeland Security Committee, though.

    November 6, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  8. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    A traitor to his party...... You can head off to oblivion along with McCain and Palin....

    November 6, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. Joe M

    Joe, call Mitch McConnell and fast. You'd better caucus with the GOP or your office is going to be inside a hanger at National Airport.

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

    This may have already been said. The democrats in the senate don't need him anymore. They are too far away from 60 seats to need him to break a filibuster, but they are far enough above 50 seats to not need him for a simple majority. He's a loser and should be cast out of the party for endorsing McCain. And let us not forget his tantrum at losing the democratic primary in Conn. in 2006 which caused him to form the People for the Ethical Treatment of Joe Lieberman. or something like that. Big L to the forehead for LOSER.

    November 6, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  11. Kate

    Kick the bum out! I never once saw McCain this entire election without Lieberman...whom I came to refer as Emperor Palpatine...right behind him. He is certainly NOT a democrat.

    November 6, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  12. BCJ

    Joe. I realize that when you lost the backing of your party in Connecticut, that it must have stung a bit. You probably felt betrayed by those you had been loyal too, with the exception of the War in Iraq. I'm glad you stuck to your guns then, even though I disagreed with you. You even showed up the guy who beat you in your own state's primary on election day 2006. But what makes me sad is that you felt it necessary to get back at the party by supporting McCain. I believe it is your right to support him, but was it really necessary to be so vocal about your support!! Even to speak at the RNC. Maybe it is what you felt you had to do, but if so I think you might want to paint yourself Red and just leave the party. It was a backhanded maneuver and the politics as usual that Barack Obama will Change. You might want to actually listen to what he is saying next time.

    November 6, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  13. Speider

    He chose his friends and now that they lost, he must live with them. Say good-bye to the Democrats, Joe.

    Oh, and could you please also find Jesus, so the Jews can be rid of you, too?

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

    Strange comments about "traitor" Lieberman etc.
    Lieberman voted with the Democrats on most things, except Iraq. Will the Democrats in the Senate need him in the future? If yes, keep him; if not, kick him out.

    November 6, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  15. Don from Miane

    Let's see-:Lieberman supported McCain-turned his back on the Democrats and now has the audacity to "ponder his future"? Perhaps he shuld move to Alaska and join the independence movement. He was almost as much a talking airhead as Palin-the only difference was he at least read a newspaper or two. An absolutely pathetic politician and his salary is a total waste of the taxpayers money. He and McCain should both resign after this campaign debacle.

    November 6, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  16. d.a.v.i.d.

    Lieberman's career is over.

    November 6, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  17. Dave

    Richie November 6th, 2008 2:33 pm ET

    He needs to be gone. Move to the repubs or resign.

    Seriously? Do you live in the USA? The man is free to do what he wants. He can call himself an independant, a Constitutionalist, Green Party, liberatarian, etc. Only the sheep believe in the two party system. BAAAAAAAA

    November 6, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  18. Steve

    Lieberman voted with the Democrats more often than not, had he not done so, the Democrats would not have had control of the Senate. So, while he was useful in getting the Democrats their majority, they thought he was ok. Once he actually displayed independance, they have no use for him. The party that preaches unity and understanding has decided to chop him up and discard him. Well at least we get to see that the party of kindeness and unity is no such thing. You ain't see nothing yet, however. With the newer stronger majority the Dem's have, watch for some rule changes in congress to completely squelch opposing views. Watch for the return of the "Fairness Doctrine". I guess if you can't beat, you make them illegal.

    November 6, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  19. ANNE


    November 6, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  20. Rox

    Joe would not be facing this fate had he supported McCain but also not thrown Obama under the bus. He did–he publicly supported the unfair attacks McCain/Palin threw at Obama. And, he did this after Obama, a rising star in the party, campaigned for him in CT. Lieberman stepped in it–he should go.

    November 6, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  21. Steve

    Amazing! Yesterday in response to a story about CPAC not inviting McCain to their meeting many of the same posters here castigated the organization and the 'Reptillian Party' according to one for seeking to punish him.

    November 6, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  22. Ghuman

    Hmm, what do we do with Rats in our home?

    November 6, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  23. A Bubba

    I thought we ran on the fundfamental idea of bringing a new kind of politics to Washington, reading the mean spirited and arrogant comments in this and the other threads I'm just not sure. Frankly folks we sound like as big a bunch of butt heads as the Republicans.

    November 6, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  24. California Girl

    Unity without Lieberman. We forgive, but never forget!

    November 6, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  25. Denny

    As much as disagree with him on the presidential race, now it's time to begin the healing. Let's put aside partisanship and move on. Let's show America what we meant when we said Change. Take the high road.

    November 6, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
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