Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic vice-presidential nominee who has endorsed John McCain, is being vetted as a potential running mate for the Republican presidential hopeful, according to an adviser to Mr McCain’s campaign.
Mr Lieberman, who has campaigned for the Arizona senator, has long been considered an unconventional but plausible choice for Mr McCain.
Although Democrats have rejected Mr McCain’s image as a maverick politician, Mr Lieberman’s support for the presumptive Republican nominee has, much to the chagrin of his former colleagues, helped to boost Mr McCain’s reputation as a bi-partisan legislator with friends on both sides of the aisle. Mr Lieberman, a staunch supporter of Israel, could also help Mr McCain win over Jewish voters.
“[McCain] loves Lieberman. And he is on the [short-]list because Lieberman has never embarrassed anyone, never misspoken. The first rule is, don’t take someone who costs you votes,” said one McCain adviser.
But not everyone would be enthusiastic about Mr Lieberman being added to the ticket. While Mr Lieberman has staunchly defended Mr McCain’s support of the surge, the escalation of US troops in Iraq, and the lawmakers have teamed up on legislative proposals to combat global warming, the registered independent is aligned with Democrats on most other issues.
“Conservatives would be pissed as hell – I think you would have a revolt, but sometimes John does what John wants to do,” the McCain adviser said.
Another McCain adviser said that it was unlikely that the Republican candidate would base his decision on “tactical considerations”.
“He can be pragmatic, but on the biggest decisions he tends to favour his instinct for the bigger picture,” the adviser said.
Mr Lieberman’s office declined to comment. But when the senator was asked recently whether he would decline a request by Mr McCain he said: “It’s not going to happen”.
Mr Lieberman has left open the possibility that he would speak at the Republican National Convention, a move that would probably ensure that Democrats would strip him of his chairmanship of the committee on homeland security. Democratic leaders allowed Mr Lieberman to caucus with them in the Senate even after he left the party to become an independent, because it gave the party control of the Senate. However, most analysts agree that if, as expected, Democrats win more seats in this year’s election, Mr Lieberman will be forced out of his coveted role on the committee.
Speculation surrounding Mr McCain’s short-list of potential nominees has so far focused on Republicans, including Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and his rival for the Republican nomination, Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota, and Rob Portman, the former Ohio congressman.
The McCain campaign declined to comment.