Lieberman arrives in Kentucky early for debate preparation
RICHMOND, Kentucky (CNN) -- Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe
Lieberman arrived Monday in Kentucky -- four days before the debate with his Republican counterpart, Dick Cheney -- and hunkered down in debate camp.
Lieberman said he found the rigorous preparation "therapeutic."
Vice presidential hopeful Joe Lieberman arrived Monday in Richmond, Kentucky, to prepare for Thursday night's debate
"In the extraordinary rush of eight weeks ago since that day when lightning struck, this is a time to not only get ready for the debate but to step back and think about the major messages that Al Gore and I are trying to convey," he said during a photo session at the Arlington House, a facility owned by the Alumnae Association of Eastern Kentucky University.
The Gore-Lieberman campaign has rented the facility for the debate preparation in this small town of 26,000 people on the edge of Kentucky horse country.
Lieberman flew into Lexington on Sunday night with his wife Hadassah and son Matthew, who is a lawyer, and told a small enthusiastic crowd at the airport he came early because he wanted to show the people of Kentucky the Democratic ticket wanted their support.
"I feel like this week is going to be like a boxing training camp," he
said, noting that the famous boxer Muhammad Ali was a native of Kentucky and with apologies to Ali, Lieberman offered his own bit of poetry: "Float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee. Watch out Richard Cheney, I've arrived in Kentucky."
He said he did not intend to criticize his opponents personally, but would take apart their records and ideas for the future.
Lieberman's staff say they wanted to give him time to rest and clear his head before the debate Thursday night. His campaign manager Tom Nides said the staff was very sensitive about not overprogramming the Connecticut senator for what they believe will be the most national exposure for the vice presidential candidates in this campaign.
Lieberman's sparring partner is Bob Barnett, the Washington lawyer who has been involved in Democratic presidential debate preparations since 1976. Lieberman said Barnett was the "Cal Ripken of debate prep. He's Mr. Reliable."
Lieberman said that the debate preparation was "excellent preparation for the rest of the campaign." He said it was reminding him of how important the election is and how much he wanted to make the case for the Democratic ticket effectively.
Kiki McLean, a spokeswoman for Lieberman, said that Lieberman began meeting with his debate team at 10 a.m. Monday. The team includes Bill Andreeson, his Senate chief of staff, Bill Bonvillian, his legislative director, Jonathan Saleet, head of the debate team, Tom Nides, the Lieberman campaign manager, and Lieberman's son Matthew.
Don Verrilli, another Washington lawyer, is playing Bernard Shaw, the CNN
anchor who will moderate Thursday's debate.