Inouye says he'll stand by Lieberman if he loses
By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer
By Derrick DePledge
U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye said he will stand with U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman even if Lieberman loses in the Democratic primary for Senate in Connecticut and runs in the general election as an independent.
Former President Bill Clinton and other prominent Democrats have campaigned for Lieberman, the party's 2000 vice presidential nominee, who is at risk of losing to millionaire businessman Ned Lamont in the Tuesday primary. But Inouye is among the few senators who have said publicly they would still support Lieberman if he runs as an independent if he loses.
The Connecticut primary is being watched nationally as a test on the impact of the Iraq war as a political issue. Lieberman supported the war and has often defended the Bush administration, making him a symbolic target for liberals who believe the party has not been aggressive enough in challenging the war.
The war has also been a factor in the Hawai'i Senate primary between U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka and U.S. Rep. Ed Case. Akaka's campaign has heavily advertised the senator's opposition to the war, while many of Akaka's liberal allies have questioned Case's Democratic credentials for his support for the war and other Bush policies.
Inouye, who also opposed the war, has endorsed and appeared in television commercials for Akaka. Senators from the same party often help each other politically, so Inouye's backing of Akaka and Lieberman is not unexpected. But Inouye's explanation for sticking with Lieberman goes beyond friendship or courtesy.
"I am very concerned about a trend in my party," Inouye said in a statement. "It mirrors what has happened with the Republican Party, where one issue —such as abortion — is paramount in defining 'a good party member.'
"As a Democrat, I have voted with and against Joe Lieberman on a number of issues, and that is true also with other Democrats in the Senate. I voted against giving the president the authorization to go to war against Iraq; Senator Lieberman did.
"We are not a rubber stamp."
Case has claimed that Akaka's campaign has tried to make the Hawai'i primary a single-issue question about Iraq. The congressman has said he would have likely voted for giving Bush authorization for the war but that his vote would have been different had he known Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. Case and Akaka also disagree on setting a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal.
Case endorsed Lieberman in his 2004 presidential bid. He said he also supports Lieberman in the primary against Lamont and in an independent campaign if he loses. "I believe our country desperately needs moderate, independent senators to actually get things done," he said.
Several liberal and progressive Democrats in Hawai'i have described Case as a "Democrat In Name Only (DINO)" for his position on the war, his vote to extend the USA Patriot Act, and his support for capital gains and alternative minimum tax breaks favored by the White House.
Andy Winer, Akaka's campaign manager, referred to Case as a "faux Democrat" in a Wednesday post on the liberal "Daily Kos" Web site. "DINO may not be a strong enough description for this terrible voting record," Winer wrote.
Reach Derrick DePledge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: U.S. Rep. Ed Case endorsed Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s 2004 candidacy for president. Lieberman ran for vice president in 2000. A previous version of this story contained incorrect information.