Lieberman disagrees with Gore
By Dave Boyer
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Al Gore's former running mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman,
sharply disagreed yesterday with Mr. Gore's assertion that
President Bush was pandering to conservative Republicans
with his push for military action against Iraq.
"I have never said that, and I
don't believe it," the Connecticut
Democrat said in unusually blunt
disagreement with Mr. Gore's
comments. "I'm grateful President
Bush wants to do this [in Iraq],
and I don't question his motives."
The former vice president told
an audience in San Francisco on
Monday that the Bush
administration had pressed the
case against Iraq "in a manner
calculated to please the portion of its base that occupies the
far right, at the expense of the solidarity among all of us as
Americans, and solidarity between our country and our
Mr. Gore also said that by moving toward war with Iraq,
the United States has "squandered" the international good will
arising from the September 11 terrorist attacks.
His comments came as lawmakers were negotiating with
the White House on a resolution to authorize military force
against Iraq. Mr. Bush has requested the action before
Congress adjourns in October to stop Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein from developing weapons of mass destruction.
Many Democratic lawmakers distanced themselves from
Mr. Gore's remarks, though Senate Majority Leader Tom
Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, supported much of what
Mr. Gore had said.
"A lot of people in this country have many of the same
concerns that the vice president spoke about," Mr. Daschle
said. "But I think at the end of the day, there's an interest on
the part of most Democratic senators to express support for
the effort [in Iraq] and to give the president the benefit of the
Asked about Mr. Gore's accusation of political pandering,
Mr. Daschle asserted that Vice President Richard B. Cheney
was guilty of such behavior Monday during a campaign stop
in Kansas for Adam Taff, a Republican House candidate.
"I must say, I was very chagrined that the vice president
would go to a congressional district yesterday and make the
assertion that they ought to vote for this particular Republican
candidate because he was a war supporter, that he was
bringing more support to the president than his opponent,"
Mr. Daschle said.
"If that doesn't politicize this war, I don't know what
does," Mr. Daschle said.
Mr. Gore's remarks also reflect a change in his own
stance. In a February speech before the Council on Foreign
Relations in New York, he said that the war on terrorism
would require a "final reckoning" with Saddam. He also said:
"As far as I'm concerned, there really is something to be said
for occasionally putting diplomacy aside and laying one's
cards on the table. There is value in calling evil by its name."
Mr. Bush declined to criticize Mr. Gore directly.
"There's a lot of Democrats in Washington, D.C., who
understand that Saddam Hussein is a true threat and that we
must hold him to account," Mr. Bush told reporters. "And I
believe you'll see, as we work to get a strong resolution out
of the Congress, that a lot of Democrats are willing to take
the lead when it comes to keeping the peace."
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "The
president's going to continue to work with the great many
Democrats in the Congress who see it differently from the
former vice president and who will work with this White
Mr. Gore's remarks prompted strong criticism from some
Democrats running for re-election.
Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, New Jersey Democrat, who
was trailing his Republican opponent badly in the polls, called
Mr. Gore's speech "not relevant."
"I don't think it has any effect on Democrats' thinking at
all," Mr. Torricelli said.
Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, asked
about Mr. Gore's charge that Mr. Bush was pandering to
conservatives, said, "I want to stay focused on the substance
Republicans rose to the president's defense.
"The former vice president of the United States is entitled
to his views. I just don't agree with it," said Sen. John
McCain, Arizona Republican. Asked whether Mr. Bush was
pushing action against Iraq to appease his political base, Mr.
McCain replied, "I don't agree with that at all."
But some Democrats believe that the White House is
exploiting a vote on Iraq for political gain.
"We've got a president downtown who's hellbent to lead
us into war, at least up until the election," said Senate
Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert C. Byrd, West