Lieberman Marching Further Right in 2010

Subway series: Former Dem veep candidate plans to campaign for GOP.

August 9, 2009, 9:10 PM

Oct. 30, 2009— -- Sounding more like an independent than a Democrat, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., tells ABC News he will campaign for some Republican candidates during the 2010 midterm elections and may not seek the Democratic Senate nomination when he runs for re-election in 2012.

"I probably will support some Republican candidates for Congress or Senate in the election in 2010. I'm going to call them as I see them," Lieberman said in an ABC News "Subway Series" interview aboard the U.S. Capitol Subway System.

Lieberman infuriated fellow Democrats in 2008 by supporting Republican presidential nominee John McCain as well as congressional candidates Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.

The moves nearly cost Lieberman his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee, but after promising to be a loyal Democrat he was allowed to keep his gavel.

Now, he says he'll do it again.

"There's a hard core of partisan, passionate, hardcore Republicans," Lieberman said. "There's a hard core of partisan Democrats on the other side. And in between is the larger group, which is people who really want to see the right thing done, or want something good done for this country and them -- and that means, sometimes, the better choice is somebody who's not a Democrat."

Asked if he will seek the Democratic nomination when he runs for re-election in 2012, Lieberman said, "That's an open question."

"There are options," Lieberman said. "The other, obviously, is to just start as an independent, which is where I ended up in 2006."

He finds being an independent "liberating" because, "You're not tied to a particular inner group and feel that extra pressure to march in lockstep. I think that the public generally is fed up with all the partisanship, and us against them."

In 2006, Lieberman lost the Democratic nomination to liberal challenger Ned Lamont and went on to win re-election as an Independent. He currently calls himself an independent Democrat, but is counted as part of the Senate Democratic caucus.

In the big campaign in his home state of Connecticut next year, however, Lieberman said he will strongly support Democratic incumbent Sen. Chris Dodd, who faces a tough re-election battle.

"I believe Sen. Dodd will get re elected, but it's not going to be easy. This is going to be a tough year for incumbents," Lieberman said. "I hope I can help him get re-elected."

In the Senate, Lieberman again has angered Democrats by saying he is adamantly opposed to including a so-called "public option" in the current health care reform bill.

Asked if he would go so far as to "join a Republican filibuster against the entire health bill" if the public option is included, Lieberman said, "Yes, that's right."

"Bottom line," he added, "I'm saying this public option is so unnecessary to genuine health care reform and so bad for our country and the people of our country that I would vote to stop final vote on this health care reform bill if the public option is part of it."

Lieberman also weighed in on the Obama administration's strategy on the war in Afghanistan, saying it is time for the president to make his decision and that he should not wait any longer.