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CNN Today

Sen. Breaux: Lieberman Reaches Out to Many Diverse Americans

Aired August 7, 2000 - 2:34 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Within the past hour, we have learned that Vice President Gore has asked Senator Joseph Lieberman to be his running mate and Lieberman has accepted. The deal was sealed by telephone, Gore in Tennessee, Lieberman in his home state of Connecticut. The 58-year-old Democrat is to fly to Nashville to appear with Gore for the official announcement tomorrow. Even before the big phone call came, Lieberman did some campaigning in a speech this morning to the AFL-CIO.

Lieberman is Jewish and was one of the first prominent Democrats to criticize the behavior of President Clinton for his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Among the people pleased at Gore's choice are some of Lieberman's constituents in the state of Connecticut.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wasn't going to vote for Gore, but I am now. Because that means he's very inclusive. For the first time we see someone who says: Let me see what this man has done, let me see his background, and then let me choose him. Usually he's Episcopalian, he's white, he's comfortable, he's middle class or above. This is different and I'm very pleased with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's very truthful and honest legislator.

QUESTION: Do you think the fact that he's an Orthodox Jew will offend people?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not at all, not at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Politically, Lieberman is considered a moderate, and he has angered some liberals in Hollywood by condemning the entertainment industry for the amount of sex and violence on television and in film. Democratic sources tell CNN that Gore chose Lieberman after a series of meetings last night, at least one of which included Gore's wife, Tipper.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: In Austin, Texas, today, reporters tried to pin down Governor Bush on the Lieberman story, but to no avail. Bush's body language appeared to be saying that he couldn't quite hear the questions being shouted at him. Later, he told CNN he'd withhold any comment until the Gore campaign makes the decision official.

However, an aide to Governor Bush offered praise for Lieberman calling him: intelligent, a man with a lot of integrity.

Joining us from Washington, one of Senator Lieberman's Democratic colleagues, that's Senator John Breaux, the senator from the state of Louisiana.

Senator Breaux, it's been acknowledged this has been a surprise choice. Many Republicans said it was a surprise, many Democrats said it was a surprise. Did it shock you in any way?

SEN. JOHN BREAUX (D), LOUISIANA: Lou, it may be a surprise to some but I think it's a terrific choice. I think when you think about it, the logic of what Vice President Al Gore did, in picking Joe Lieberman, makes a great deal of political sense. And I think it was the right choice for this ticket.

WATERS: What is the political sense? what sense does it make?

BREAUX: Lou, I think what it says is that Vice President Gore realizes that this campaign is going to be fought in the mainstream, in the middle. I think both parties cannot win just with our traditional bases. We both have to depend on the base, but we have to expand that base. And I think that Joe Lieberman allows us to be very competitive among independents, as well as even some moderate Republicans.

WATERS: There are many questions being raised today about Senator Lieberman's Jewishness. Do you have anything, any reflections on that?

BREAUX: Lou, I'm from the deep south and I think that that issue was put to rest when John Kennedy was elected president as a Roman Catholic back in the 1960. People, I think, in American today, are not so concerned about where you worship, but what you stand for and whether you have integrity, whether you have honesty and whether you have political integrity. On all of those counts, I think that Joe Lieberman clearly hits a home run.

WATERS: About the only thing that's different here is he will not be campaigning on the sabbath. I think he's told us that he won't be campaigning from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, and many have interpreted that as he will not be much of an attack dog for Al Gore. But is that a bad thing?

BREAUX: Well, Lou, I would think that he may be able to campaign on Sundays when the rest of us are not campaigning. So I think that that's not the issue. He will have plenty of time to campaign. And I think that he's going to be able to speak out to mainstream Americans, to people in the suburbs, to people in the south, the Midwest, throughout this whole country as a new type of Democrat, a New Democrat. He's chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, which has come up with new ideas, which challenges conventional thinking in a lot of areas. And I think that's going to be a real asset. WATERS: You Democrats will be going into L.A. next week, trailing Governor Bush, by some accounts, by 16 or 17 points. What has to happen in Los Angeles to narrow that all down?

BREAUX: Well, Lou, I remember, I was co-chairman of the Dukakis campaign when we were 15 points ahead after our convention and that lead evaporated very, very quickly. This race is yet to begun. I think that with both vice presidents now picked, I think you'll start seeing them engage in the issues. I think they'll look at the qualifications and see whether they stand for new ideas or whether they're still going to depend on old ways of doing things. I think our ticket is going to move forward as soon as our convention is over.

WATERS: Is it going to be a close one you think?

BREAUX: It'll be a close one, I think that everybody would acknowledge that's it's going to be very, very close. And I think today's choice of Joe Lieberman by Vice President Gore clearly indicates that Al Gore knows what our ticket has to do in order to win. And that is to reach out to the middle. And I think with Joe Lieberman it gives him the tools to do exactly that.

WATERS: Senator John Breaux, we'll see you in Los Angeles.

BREAUX: Thank you, Lou.

WATERS: The U.S. senator from the state of Louisiana.

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