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Breaking Ranks

Monday, December 17, 2007

LIEBERMAN TO BACK MCCAIN

Breaking Ranks

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.), the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee who currently lists his party affiliation as "Independent Democrat," will break party ranks to endorse Sen. John McCain's presidential bid, according to sources close to the Arizona Republican. The announcement will be made Monday morning in New Hampshire.

McCain and Lieberman have been friends for years and have emerged over the past several years as two of the most outspoken congressional proponents of the war in Iraq. Lieberman's support for the war cost him his party's Senate nomination in 2006, as antiwar forces rallied behind businessman Ned Lamont to oust him. Though Lieberman lost the Democratic primary, he won the general election as an independent.

While Lieberman has grown less and less popular within Democratic ranks, he remains a respected figure among moderate and unaligned voters. That constituency is crucial in New Hampshire, where unaffiliated voters, who can vote in either party's primary on Jan. 8, make up roughly 40 percent of the electorate. "At this stage, every little thing matters as they're fighting for political survival," said John Weaver, a longtime McCain ally who left his job as a senior adviser to the campaign in a staff shake-up. "This endorsement could help, unless the entire focus of it is Iraq."

Lieberman's announcement follows endorsements of McCain over the weekend by the editorial boards of the Des Moines Register and the Boston Globe.

-- Chris Cillizza

KERREY SIGNS ON

One More for Clinton

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton celebrated one high-profile endorsement, from the Des Moines Register's editorial board, by announcing a second: from former senator Bob Kerrey, the renegade Nebraskan-turned-New Yorker.

Kerrey told an energetic crowd gathered at a high school here that he is backing Clinton "enthusiastically and unequivocally." The former first lady stood next to Kerrey onstage, beaming. "I am absolutely overwhelmed personally to have my friend of 25 years, Bob Kerrey, endorse me with such a vote of confidence," she said.

Now president of the New School in New York City, Kerrey served as a U.S. senator and governor of Nebraska. He also was a Navy SEAL in Vietnam.

At the podium Sunday morning, Kerrey touted Clinton's years of experience in public life and asserted that she would become "a strong, reliable and compassionate commander in chief."

After the event, he mused about her chief rival, Sen. Barack Obama.

"The fact that he's African American is a big deal. I do expect and hope that Hillary is the nominee of the party. But I hope he's used in some way. If he happens to be the nominee of the party and ends up being president, I think his capacity to influence in a positive way . . . the behavior of a lot of underperforming black youth today is very important, and he's the only one who can reach them."

Kerrey continued: "It's probably not something that appeals to him, but I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama, and that his father was a Muslim and that his paternal grandmother is a Muslim. There's a billion people on the planet that are Muslims, and I think that experience is a big deal."

He returned to Clinton: "She does inspire my confidence. She can do the job. In my view, she's the complete package."

-- Shailagh Murray

CLICKING FOR DOLLARS

Paul's Money Web

Rep. Ron Paul, whose rock-star status on the Internet has fueled his campaign almost by itself, appears to have broken another online fundraising record.

His own.

On Nov. 5, which was Guy Fawkes Day, a symbol of rebellion in British history, Paul hauled in $4.3 million in 24 hours -- the most money raised online by a candidate in a single day.

And Sunday, on the 234th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, which helped spark the American Revolution, Paul's supporters planned another "money-bomb."

By 9 p.m., the Texas Republican had raised $5 million from more than 30,000 donors, bringing his fundraising total for this quarter to nearly $17 million. And counting.

-- Jose Antonio Vargas

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