What Joe Lieberman doesn't want you to know
For Joe, this election is all about Joe and he could care less about the Democratic Party. If this is not the case, whey then is he collecting signatures for his independent run?
By the way, who's collecting those signatures and why is Lieberman and his campaign staff avoiding answering questions about Connecticut for Lieberman?
Judy Yost won't talk about the petitions she's circulating to ensure Sen. Joseph Lieberman a spot on the November ballot.Not that Yost is reticent about the senator. One of his staunch supporters, she will rhapsodize about anything Lieberman with little prompting.Offended is an understatement. Here's the great Democrat Joe Lieberman willing to spit in the eye of any Democrat who opposes him. He has consistantly undermined the Democratic Party on so many issues that it's hard to keep count and now he is trying all he can to keep his ultimate act of betrayl under wraps.
But Yost knows that Lieberman's campaign staff is a little touchy on the subject of his backup plan to run as a petitioning candidate if he loses next week's primary. At least you get the sense they would be touchy if you could get one of them to actually discuss it.
Or return a phone call, even.
"I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint you," was the breezy response from Lieberman's campaign manager, Sean Smith, when asked about the petition drive last week. "I don't get updates. I am completely uninvolved."
So uninvolved, Smith said, that he has no idea who is running the petition drive. After saying he would find out and call back with the information, Smith failed to return repeated phone calls last week. Messages left for the campaign's spokeswoman, Marion Steinfels, were also unreturned.
It is not surprising that Lieberman prefers to avoid the topic of the petition drive. Its very existence speaks to his uncertainty about winning the Aug. 8 primary against Ned Lamont.
More significantly, though, Lieberman is also said to be afraid of further alienating Democrats by refusing to step aside if Lamont wins Aug. 8 and becomes the party-endorsed candidate. Most high-profile Democrats, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, have said they will support whoever wins the primary.
"They don't want anybody to know about it," said George Jepsen, a former state Democratic party chairman and a Lamont supporter. "Because when Democrats understand he's trying to have it both ways, they're appropriately offended by this. Joe Lieberman owes his career to the Democratic party."
The Lieberman campaign has been spotted at Constitution plaza recently collecting signatures as well as quietly collecting names at individuals plaes of work. The people collecting names won't talk to the press and run away as fast as they can.
But it's impossible to miss the aura of secrecy emanating from the Lieberman campaign these days. Like a dotty Victorian aunt stashed in a back room, the petition organization is kept under wraps lest it attract too much attention and scandalize proper Democrats.Lieberman dances around the petition question while smiling at journalists. Fortunately, one fearless man wasn't going to take Joe's slip away from the question (and he happen to get the encounter on videotape).
At the Crown Market in West Hartford on Monday, for example, two men collecting signatures for Lieberman packed up their table after being approached by a Courant photographer and hurriedly left, saying they had been ordered elsewhere. They would not disclose their new location.
Lieberman workers were also spotted catching shoppers coming and going outside Waldbaum's Food Mart in West Hartford on Saturday morning, with a man in a red shirt soliciting signatures at the entrance and a man in a blue shirt working the exit.
The man at the exit, wearing a prominent Lieberman sticker on his shirt, greeted shoppers with, "I'm collecting signatures for Joe Lieberman." To those shoppers willing to pause and inquire further, he elaborated, "To get his name on the ballot."
The word "petition" was absent from the drill.
"I don't think we're supposed to give any information out to The Courant," the man in the blue shirt said when approached by a reporter. Would he at least give his name? "I don't want to do that."
Yost, for one, said she is proud to be one of the people gathering signatures. She's been a Lieberman supporter since the 1970s, when he hired her to work on his staff after he was elected to the state senate.
"Do I want him to run as an independent? No, I want him as a Democrat," Yost said. "But if I can help him through this process I will do it. I just truly respect him as a person."
Yost, who is volunteering her time, said she was told by the Lieberman campaign not to discuss the petition drive with the media without first getting approval.
Others, such as Lieberman supporter Daniel I. Papermaster of West Hartford, also declined to speak. Papermaster, also a volunteer, said the campaign would rather the volunteers not discuss the petition drive.
Lamont supporters have taken to posting online videos of these encounters, including one at a July 24 campaign stop. Lieberman was challenged by reporters after he said he wasn't "thinking about the day after the primary."
"Senator, if you're not thinking about after the primary," a reporter asked, "why are you collecting signatures right now?"
"You're not going to stop," Lieberman observed wryly.
"I just would like an answer," the reporter persisted, shouting to make himself heard as Lieberman walked into a building.
"The interview's over," a burly security man said.
Watch the encounter for yourself.
I'm just happy the fearless one didn't shit on himself...