Republicans say Lieberman voting record at odds with Gore agenda
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Al Gore considers his newly minted running mate Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman not just an ally, but as a political soulmate, a fellow Democrat who stood with him on issues ranging from international policy to welfare reform.
"We have stood together again and again for policies and principle to bring a new time of prosperity and progress," Gore said Tuesday, introducing the Connecticut senator as his running mate to a cheering crowd in Nashville, Tennessee.
Lieberman was first elected to the Senate in 1988.
But Republicans sarcastically responded to the choice by calling for a Gore-Lieberman debate, pointing out that the Democratic vice presidential candidate and the GOP's nominee, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, have held similar views on school voucher programs, privatizing part of the Social Security program, and the need for a national missile defense system.
During the Democratic primary season, Gore criticized challenger Bill Bradley for supporting experimental school voucher programs in the Senate.
"Instead of meaningful public school choice and competition, he proposes private school vouchers draining away precious public dollars from our private schools, giving them to private schools that are not accountable at all," Gore said during one debate with Bradley, a former senator from New Jersey.
Although he was taking aim at his Democratic primary challenger, Gore could have very well been talking about Lieberman, who voted with Bradley on a number of school voucher programs during the mid 1990s.
Republicans also say that Gore is at odds with his running mate on Social Security, pointing to a 1998 interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune, in which Lieberman called privatization proposals "innovative."
"We're going to see a kind of old Democratic Party, new Democratic Party kind of split on this. I think in the end that individual control of part of the retirement Social Security funds has got to happen," Lieberman was quoted as saying.
More recently, Lieberman has criticized such privatization proposals.
In an unpublished editorial piece written in June, Lieberman explained why his views on the subject had changed.
"I was attracted by privatization proposals that seemed to promise taxpayers more control over their Social Security," Lieberman wrote. "But ultimately I turned away from privatization because the promises and the numbers supporting them don't add up."
But Lieberman has repeatedly sided with Republicans on a national missile defense system.
During most of the 1990s, Lieberman was a lonely Democratic voice supporting a large-scale missile defense program. In 1995, he was one of five Democrats to vote against cutting funding for a space-based "Star Wars" defense program.
For his part, Gore has criticized his Republican rival's call for a global missile defense system, calling it too costly and too dangerous.
"I won't even guess at the new math needed to make his risky foreign policy scheme and his risky tax scheme add up," Gore said recently on the stump.
Differences with Gore aside, Lieberman ridicules Republican suggestions that he agrees more with George W. Bush. The 58-year-old senator said the GOP is attempting to "blur the differences" between the two parties, and hoping the American electorate won't be able to tell the difference.
"With all due respect, I think that's a little like saying that the veterinarian and the taxidermist are in the same business," Lieberman said Tuesday. "Because either way, you get your dog back."