Pelosi chides Lieberman over Obama remarks

August 13, 2008 9:09:44 PM PDT
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized former Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman Wednesday for campaigning against Barack Obama, calling Lieberman's characterizations of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee "totally irresponsible." Speaking on a local radio program where she was promoting her new book, Pelosi, D-Calif., responded to a caller who asked what could be done to keep Lieberman from undermining Obama's bid for the White House.

"You are right. Joe Lieberman has said things that are totally irresponsible when it comes to Barack Obama," Pelosi said. "Here we have a leader for the future, really a great leader for the future and one that comes along only every now and then, and they know it so they have to undermine him. And one of their best weapons, of course, is someone who is considered by some to be a Democrat."

Lieberman was the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2000, but has since switched to be an independent and become a strong supporter of Sen. John McCain, the Republican Party's presidential nominee-in waiting. He also has been mentioned as a possible McCain running mate.

The Connecticut senator's verbal digs against Obama have angered many Democrats, including Senate colleagues with whom Lieberman often votes. In June, after questioning Obama's positions on Iran and Israel, he pledged not to make personal attacks on Obama while stumping for McCain.

But while campaigning with McCain in New Jersey and Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Lieberman compared McCain's role as a Vietnam War hero with Obama's lack of military experience.

The November election, Lieberman said, is a choice "between one candidate, John McCain, who has always put his country first, worked across party lines to get things done, and one candidate that has not."

Pelosi said during the radio interview that Senate Democrats are in a tough spot - they need Lieberman to maintain their 51-49 majority - but "it will be interesting to see what the leadership in the Senate, the Democratic leadership in the Senate, does (after the election) in terms of Joe Lieberman's chairmanship of his committee."

Lieberman is chairman of the Senate committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

There has been speculation that if Democrats bolster their Senate majority this fall, they could seek payback by stripping Lieberman of the chairmanship.

Lieberman's representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

During the radio program, Pelosi also was asked about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's posture toward Obama after losing to the Illinois senator in the primary.

"I think Hillary Clinton has been very gracious," she said. "I think some of her supporters have been less than gracious."

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