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My Son, the Senator

John McCain with his friend Joe Lieberman earlier this month on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania. The Republican candidate is hoping his friend and colleague can sway enough Jewish voters in Ohio to tip the state in his favor.
John McCain with his friend Joe Lieberman earlier this month on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania. The Republican candidate is hoping his friend and colleague can sway enough Jewish voters in Ohio to tip the state in his favor. (By Matt Rourke -- Associated Press)
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By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, October 30, 2008

While Joe the Plumber is helping to get out the working-class vote for the GOP ticket in Ohio, another Joe is busy doing his part for John McCain -- Joe the Senator.

Otherwise known as Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), Joe the Senator is wooing the small but possibly crucial Jewish voting bloc in Ohio, which McCain campaign aides hope will help them capture the battleground state.

Lieberman's face is plastered all over a glossy eight-page mailer, funded by the Ohio Republican Party, that began arriving in mailboxes in primarily Jewish neighborhoods yesterday afternoon. The cover features a large photo of Lieberman with his pal and Senate colleague McCain (R-Ariz.) at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, both wearing yarmulkes.

"A proven record, a friend of the Jewish community, 25 years of rock-solid support for strong U.S.-Israel relations, ready to lead on Day One," the cover blares.

Inside, there's a photo of McCain and Lieberman, accompanied by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, inspecting "terrorist rockets" fired from Gaza into the southern Israel town of Sderot. On the back, again, there's Joe, who is quoted as saying:

"As a lifelong Democrat, people often ask me, why am I supporting John McCain? There are many important issues in this campaign, but there is a central issue that is far more important than all the others: The issue of national security and the war against Islamist extremism. And I know with absolute certainty, that the most qualified candidate to be commander in chief is John McCain."

Not surprisingly, the McCain campaign and its surrogates have shied away from highlighting running mate Sarah Palin, an evangelical Christian, to Jewish voters. She is not seen in the Ohio GOP flier. Instead, another Republican governor of an outlying state is working Ohio this week: Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, who, like Joe, is Jewish.

Round and Round It Goes

Whatever happens in Tuesday's presidential race, Lieberman is facing his own day of reckoning. Senate Democrats grew irate this year with his campaigning for McCain and, more important, his open criticism of Obama. Some have privately talked of tossing Lieberman out of the Democratic caucus by stripping him of his committee assignments, and the betting inside the Capitol is that there's a move to remove him as chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"We're not going to discuss that till after the election. You can draw your own conclusion," Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the party leadership, told reporters yesterday.

And so begins one of Capitol Hill's favorite parlor games: speculation over who gets which committee chairmanship.

If Lieberman loses his post, it's unclear whether he would bolt across the aisle and caucus with Republicans. His chairmanship could fall to either Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), who already chairs Veterans Affairs, or Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.).

And if Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.), is moved aside as chairman of the Appropriations Committee [see story below], Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) is expected to claim that prized gavel.


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