Leahy says Lieberman should not be allowed to keep chairmanship

11/14/08 4:32PM By Bob Kinzel
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AP Photo/L. Jackson
(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy says that Independent Senator Joe Lieberman should not be allowed to keep his chairmanship in the new Congress.

Lieberman campaigned aggressively for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Leahy says he would never expect to retain his own leadership position if he had acted the way Lieberman did.

VPR's Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Next week, the Senate Democratic Caucus in Washington will decide what to do about Connecticut Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman.

Lieberman, the party's vice presidential candidate in 2000, has caucused with the Democrats since his election as an Independent in 2006 and he was named as the chairman of the Senate's Homeland Security committee.

But a number of Democrats are very angry with Lieberman because he actively campaigned for Republican presidential candidate John McCain this fall.

Speaking on VPR's Vermont Edition, Leahy says he's very disappointed by Lieberman's actions during the campaign and Leahy doesn't think the Democrats should keep Lieberman in his leadership position:

(Leahy) "Senator Lieberman's chairmanship will come up for a vote. Every senator will have to vote the way that he or she believes; they should. I'm one who does not feel that somebody should be rewarded with a major chairmanship after doing what he did."

(Kinzel) Leahy says Lieberman did more than just support McCain - Leahy says the Connecticut senator unfairly criticized Democratic candidate Barack Obama:

(Leahy) "I felt some of the attacks that he was involved in against senator Obama ... I thought they went way beyond the pale. I thought they were not fair. I thought they were not legitimate. I thought that they perpetuated some of these horrible myths that were being run about Senator Obama. I would feel that had I done something similar that I would not be chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the next Congress."

(Kinzel) Since the election, Leahy is the first Democratic leader to oppose keeping Lieberman in a leadership position in the new Congress.

The Senate Democratic Caucus will vote on Lieberman's future next Tuesday.

For VPR News I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson

Click here to go to the full interview with Patrick Leahy

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