Obama has wrapped himself in the mantle of the anti-war movement. He claims he was against it from the beginning and regularly condemns Clinton's pre-war vote. It is fair to examine his record on the war. It is fair to ask why Obama endorsed and campaigned for pro-war Joe Lieberman.
According to The Boston Globe on March 31, 2006, "U.S. Sen. Barack Obama rallied Connecticut Democrats at their annual dinner Thursday night, throwing his support behind mentor and Senate colleague Joe Lieberman.Obama, an Illinois Democrat who is considered a rising star in the party, was the keynote speaker at the annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner.
Lieberman, Connecticut's junior senator, is under fire from some liberal Democrats for his support of the Iraq War. He was key in booking Obama, who routinely receives more than 200 speaking invitations each week.
Some at Thursday's dinner said that while they were pleased with Lieberman's success in bringing Obama to Connecticut, they still consider Lieberman uncomfortably tolerant of the Bush administration.
Obama wasted little time getting to that point, calling it the "elephant in the room" but praising Lieberman's intellect, character and qualifications.
"The fact of the matter is, I know some in the party have differences with Joe. I'm going to go ahead and say it," Obama told the 1,700-plus party members who gathered in a ballroom at the Connecticut Convention Center for the $175-per-head fundraiser.
"I am absolutely certain Connecticut is going to have the good sense to send Joe Lieberman back to the U.S. Senate so he can continue to serve on our behalf," he said.Obama received widespread attention for his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, delivered while he was still a state senator.
Lieberman became Obama's mentor when Obama was sworn into the Senate in 2005. They stayed close at Thursday night's event, too, entering the room together and working the crowd in tandem.
Despite the camaraderie between the two, the crowd was clearly more receptive to Obama's remarks than Lieberman's speech about party unity and the potential for Democratic victories at the ballot box this fall.
In fact, scattered boos greeted Lieberman when he took the podium, and he had to stop three times during his remarks to shush the crowd so he could deliver key points.
Ned Lamont, a Democratic activist and anti-war candidate from Greenwich, is challenging Lieberman for the party's nomination this year. Legions of supporters of Lieberman and Lamont both attended the dinner.
Lieberman, who is seeking a fourth term, also faces an Election Day challenge from Paul Streitz of Darien, who is trying to win the Republican nomination.
Some Democrats at Thursday's event said Lieberman's support of the Iraq War is still a sore point with them. In fact, the Democratic town committees in Windsor and Manchester both recently passed resolutions condemning Lieberman's stance.
"Those of us who've been on the shooting end of the war gallery aren't happy at all about what's going on," said Warren Packer, a Manchester Democratic Town Committee member and military veteran. "I think he's done some good things for the state, but he has to answer for the war."
But that view was not shared throughout the ballroom.
Former Connecticut Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Maloney, who voted against the launch of the war while he served in the House, said he thinks Lieberman's other accomplishments will overshadow the concerns about his stance on the Iraq War.
"I'm still confident my position was correct, but I just as strongly believe that Sen. Lieberman voted his conscience," Maloney said. "Even those of us who don't agree with him on that one issue have to credit him for doing what he thinks is the right thing."