Lieberman's Faith a Concern - Democratic Head
Aug 5 2000 9:35PM ET
EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. (Reuters) - Sen. Joseph Lieberman would ''almost be a
slam dunk'' as Al Gore's choice for vice-presidential running mate if he
were Episcopalian rather than Jewish, Ed Rendell, chairman of the
National Democratic Committee, said on Saturday.
``Joe Lieberman would be a bold and courageous choice,'' Rendell said,
calling the Connecticut Democrat ``maybe the finest person in politics''
but also acknowledging concerns about a possible backlash against his
``I don't think anyone can calculate the effect of having a Jew on the
ticket,'' Rendell told reporters as Gore attended a fund-raiser in East
Hampton, New York. ``If Joe Lieberman was Episcopalian, I think he'd
almost be a slam dunk,'' Rendell added.
Gore intends to name his choice on Tuesday. Lieberman is on the
short-list, along with Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts, John Edwards of
North Carolina and Evan Bayh of Indiana, House Democratic Leader Dick
Gephardt of Missouri, and New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.
Shaheen and Gephardt have said they are not interested. But only Shaheen
has said she would not accept the No. 2 slot if it was offered.
Gore has also said there is a seventh possible contender, identified only
as a ``wild card.''
WILL STAY NEUTRAL
Rendell joked that he was for the ``wild card,'' though he added he did
not know the identity of the person. He said that each of the six known
candidates would be a boost but that he was remaining publicly neutral
and would not endorse anyone.
At the same time, he threw out a couple of other names as potential
contenders: Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a veteran of Vietnam, where he
won the Medal of Honor, and former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, whom
Gore defeated for the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this
Rendell said Kerrey's war-hero status could be a boost to Gore, who also
served in Vietnam as an Army journalist. Rendell said that if Gore picked
Bradley, a former Rhodes Scholar and professional basketball player, that
would also trigger excitement.
Asked what Bradley would bring to the ticket, Rendell said,
''Intelligence, integrity and stature and (the states of) Pennsylvania,
New Jersey and Delaware.''
Rendell said Gore might have picked Defense Secretary Bill Cohen as his
running mate -- if Cohen had not said he intended to vote for fellow
Republican George W. Bush for president.
``He'd be dynamite,'' Rendell said of the former Republican senator from
Of Lieberman, Rendell said, ``Maybe that is what we ought to do is pick
the finest person in politics -- I think it would be great.''
Asked if Lieberman's faith was enough of a concern to rule him out,
Rendell shrugged and said, ``I'm not sure that the people who would vote
against us because Joe is Jewish aren't going to vote against us
Copyright � 2000 Reuters Limited.
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