When Joe Lieberman first started stumping on behalf of John McCain, he said it was driven primarily by a shared vision for the Iraq war and a personal affinity towards the candidate. As such, it was somewhat unexpected that the Connecticut independent and 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee would extend his advocacy to McCain's running mate, especially considering the serious policy gaps that separate the two.
But such an assumption has proved to be wrong. Lieberman defended Palin during his speech before the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. And on Monday afternoon, he did it again, this time touting the Republican vice presidential candidate as a refreshing reformist with a fighting spirit who is "smart and tough" and "what we need."
"My own observation is that the Palin selection by John was so surprising that the Obama campaign was off-balance for a couple of days about how to respond to it," Lieberman told Lars Larson, a conservative radio host. "With the media, a lot of it has been unfair but it is just part of what happens. In the end, you have to hope the public sees through it. Going across the country people identify with Sarah Palin, and nothing is sticking to her. She may have some of that Reagan Teflon [in her]."
Lieberman addressed the reports that he, at one time, had been considered for the spot that Palin now holds, saying his immediate reaction was, "Are you kidding?" He also hit Barack Obama for proclaiming he had helped achieve bipartisan legislation by arguing that those signature bills -- ethics reform and nuclear non-proliferation -- were non-controversial. But the majority of the brief appearance was spent (like much of the attention of the campaign) on Palin, whose rise Lieberman portrayed as a quintessentially American tale.
"Succeeding generations of immigrants have brought into the American ethic, the American ideal, the American community, and she is part of that," Lieberman explained. "Part of it is the extra dimension of the frontier, which for so long was the defining American characteristic but is still alive and well in places of the country, particularly out west, and obviously in Alaska. There is something very refreshing about her and I think John sensed that or saw that. And look, Washington needs fresh air, and he went about as far as you could go from Washington while still being in America and found a fighting governor to be his running mate. I think it is a good team."