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Gore Selects Sen. Lieberman as Vice Presidential Running Mate

Aired August 7, 2000 - 8:29 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut is Al Gore's choice as his running mate. Lieberman is 58, a two-term senator, a former state attorney general of Connecticut, and an Orthodox Jew, the first Jewish vice presidential candidate in U.S. history. He was one of the first senators to openly criticize President Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Joining us once again now is our John King, who's been traveling with the Gore campaign. He's in Nashville, Tennessee this morning.

And let's talk about this if we can, John, for just a moment, this fact that Senator Lieberman is an Orthodox Jew. That means that he does not work at all on the weekends from -- during the Sabbath from Friday through Sunday. Has the campaign at all talked about how that's going to be an issue, or whether it will be?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we'll have to wait to see how Senator Lieberman explains this in this new context as the vice president's running mate. He has said in the past that while he would like to be religiously observant, that he can conduct official duties if necessary on the Sabbath.

So we will see now how he describes his new role. Whether he will campaign on Saturdays is one issue. But more importantly, I guess, whether -- what he would do as vice president. But he has said in the past that despite his very conservative religious beliefs, that he can tend to his official duties on the Sabbath.

HARRIS: What about the tactics here. We've been talking off an on with various experts here about exactly why this pick was made by the campaign, whether it -- because it doesn't seem to bring them any constituency that the campaign did not already pretty much bank on here. What is the campaign telling you?

KING: Well, it doesn't bring you a state, per se. Connecticut, a very small state, not a large electoral state. The vice president doing very well in the Northeast anyway. What they do think, though, they think it is a good match for Governor Bush's pick of Dick Cheney.

Like Mr. Cheney, Democrats describing Senator Lieberman as a very serious individual, one with a very broad resume of experience. Not only is he in the U.S. Senate, he was the state attorney general in Connecticut prior to being elected to the Senate. He's viewed as a very serious person on fiscal matters, Social Security reform and Medicare even. He's a bit more conservative than the vice president is.

And most importantly, remember the tone of the Republican National Convention, both Secretary Cheney and Governor Bush raising Bill Clinton's personal conduct, at least indirectly, saying it was time to bring honesty, integrity, morality back to the White House. Those are the words being used this morning now to describe Senator Lieberman. He is a man who has gone after Hollywood for the content of its programming, he is among the first Democrats to criticize President Clinton after his relationship with Monica Lewinsky became known.

So the Gore campaign hoping that by picking Senator Lieberman, they can inoculate themselves somewhat against the questions of integrity and morality as the Republicans try to link the vice president to the president's personal misconduct.

HARRIS: And, John, finally this morning, can you clear up something for us about the process that's involved here? And the wire services are all saying that vice president Gore is going to be making the call to Lieberman later, and yet and still here we are reporting this on the air. And we're not alone doing this. It's all over the place. How exactly does this all work out? Is Lieberman there in Nashville right now?

KING: No, Lieberman is not in Nashville right now. Indeed, they already have a campaign team in place: a campaign manager, a communications director, advanced people to help him out. They are here in Nashville and they will fly later today to pick up Senator Lieberman and bring him here for the announcement tomorrow. He will get the official phone call from the vice president, we're told, around noon.

But he knows he is being considered. There have been signals back and forth that he was on the list of finalists. And if he did not want to be considered, the Gore campaign says he's had plenty of opportunity to take himself out of the running. Instead, we are told by Democratic sources, he has voiced interest, and indeed he has assured the Gore campaign he would accept the vice presidential spot on the ticket if it were offered.

The vice president, again, scheduled to make that phone call in a few hours here in Nashville. Senator Lieberman will be here for an announcement noontime tomorrow -- Leon.

HARRIS: Thanks much, John King in Nashville. You know how much we like to give away big secrets. Appreciate it.

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