Monday, October 23, 2006

Prominent Republicans Back Lieberman

The Hartford Courant covers the leading Republicans who donated to Lieberman after the Connecticut primary. It's worth noting how many leading Senate Republicans donated to Lieberman. The articles notes that Lieberman has always said that he will caucus with Senate Democrats.

But I find it truly hard to believe he would do something so manifestly against his own interest.

Among the post-primary contributors to the Connecticut senator, running as an independent for a fourth term, was Joseph Allbaugh, one of the four members of Bush's tight inner circle during his 2000 presidential campaign, and two Republican Senate committee chairmen.

Also giving was Melvin Sembler, former ambassador to Italy and longtime friend of the Bush family, former assistant Republican Senate Leader Don Nickles, and dozens of others from Texas, Missouri, Colorado and other states where Lieberman usually does not find contributors.

The effort to get Bush loyalists into Lieberman's camp was triggered by White House political guru Karl Rove's Aug. 8 phone call to the senator, just before Lieberman learned he would lose to Ned Lamont in the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary...

The White House has kept up the drumbeat, consistently sending other signals as Lieberman continues to push for funds in the campaign's closing days. Thursday, for instance, Bush praised Lieberman at Republican rallies in Pennsylvania and Virginia, and Vice President Dick Cheney has made it a part of his standard stump speech to decry how the Democratic Party has "turned its back" on the senator.

Lieberman campaign manager Sherry Brown said the campaign has had no contact with the White House or the Republican Party, though she said of the GOP money, "We reached out and people reached out to us." Usually that meant that traditional Lieberman fundraisers contacted Republicans for cash, something they were often unable to do in the past.

"We're happy when we get support from anybody," Brown said.

The latest campaign finance reports, for the period ending Sept. 30, show Lieberman having raised $14.8 million. Lamont raised about $9 million in the same period, and has given an additional $2.5 million of his own to the campaign since then. Despite his lead in fundraising, Lieberman has been complaining that he's the financial underdog in the race...

According to those familiar with the events and the pitches for money, no one is dangling the prospect of a re-elected Lieberman voting with Senate Republicans. The senator has consistently said that if he wins a fourth term, he will caucus with Senate Democrats...

From Texas came typically Republican donors like Allbaugh, Bush's 2000 national campaign manager and now an Austin-based business and homeland security consultant; Benjamin Warren, chief executive officer of ITC Trading Company; Leo Fields, a Dallas investment adviser; Alex Thomas, a San Antonio investor; and Robert Marbut, a San Antonio television executive.

From Florida, there was Sembler and his wife, Betty; Lake Worth builder Bruce Toll; St. Petersburg college executive Carl Kuttler; and Weston attorney Teddy Klinghoffer.

And from all over the country came other big GOP names: Maryland attorney Peter Winik; New York corporate executive Lewis Eisenberg; Greensboro, N.C., foundation executive E.S. Melvin, Washington consultant Debra M. Bryant and Chattanooga retiree Dudley Porter...

The senator also benefited from political committees set up by Republican politicians. Former Tennessee Republican Sen. Fred Thompson, who worked with Lieberman for years on the homeland security committee, made a donation.

So did the Big Tent Political Action Committee, which is controlled by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa.; Impact America, controlled by Sen. Gordon H. Smith, R-Oregon, and the Hawkeye PAC, run by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles R. Grassley, R-Iowa.

More common are the donations from those PACs or Washington-connected donors who routinely give to candidates from both parties.

For instance, Lieberman got contributions from George David, United Technologies chairman and chief executive officer, and David P. Hess, president of Hamilton Sundstrand, a UTC division. Both have also given to President Bush and to Democrats.

Lieberman's campaign hosted a crowded fundraiser in late September at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill, an event that attracted hundreds of well-wishers. The suggested donation was $1,000 per person, and the event featured not only lobbyists and politicians, but personal friends of the Liebermans.

Those friends, as well as a lot of Democrats, continue to give large sums. Lieberman's latest campaign finance report shows little if any drop-off in giving from his usual sources. He continues to raise significant sums from Jewish communities all over the country, as well as pull money from moderate Democrats including author Ben Wattenberg, Clinton administration Director of Central Intelligence R. James Woolsey Jr.; former diplomat Max M. Kampelman; Clinton administration Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin; and former Indiana Sen. Birch E. Bayh.

"They're not there because they all love Joe's view on Iraq," said veteran Democratic fundraiser Peter G. Kelly. "They're there because they love Joe."

Apart from thinking that it makes the most sense for Lieberman to caucus with Republicans, I'll add that for all the money being sent his way, I certainly HOPE he does so.

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