After Obama attacks, Lieberman stops attending Dem lunches
Nick Juliano
Published: Tuesday September 9, 2008

Print This  Email This

Reid spokesman says former Dem wasn't booted from gatherings

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office is denying reports that former Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman has been barred from attending weekly Democratic caucus lunches, while acknowledging he will no longer be showing up.

"While it is no secret that the Democratic caucus is disappointed in Senator Liebermanís attacks on Senator Obama, the irresponsible report that Senator Lieberman has been excluded from caucus meetings is completely untrue," said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid. "Senator Lieberman has chosen to not attend Democratic caucus lunches, and that is his choice."

The Connecticut Independent, who was defeated in a Democratic primary two years ago and has gone on to become one of Republican presidential candidate John McCain's biggest supporters, is considered a traitor by many in the Democratic base.

After a speech at the Republican convention last week in which he excoriated Democratic nominee Barack Obama, Lieberman further estranged himself from the Democrats with whom he caucuses in the Senate. Assuming the party picks up a few more Senate seats in November's elections, it's likely Lieberman will be formally heaved from the caucus and stripped of his committee chairmanship.

Reid's office did not deny those rumors in its brief statement released Tuesday.

Lieberman told The Hill earlier Tuesday that he would be skipping the lunches.

"I think it's probably wise for me and for my colleagues in the Democratic caucus to dine somewhere else for the next few weeks," said Lieberman, who was the party's vice presidential nominee in 2000.

Without Lieberman's membership in the caucus, Democrats would not be in control of the Senate, creating a touchy situation in an election year in which he is not supporting the party's nominee. If Democrats expand their 51-seat majority, that will no longer be the case and Lieberman may find himself out on his own.