differences affect little
By ERIN PIROUTEK
Senior Staff Writer
The past of each presidential candidate is under careful scrutiny in this close race. Although a candidate's personal history is normally considered within an election, it is critical considering that anything swaying a few swing-state voters could win or lose the election.
When Vice President Al Gore selected Senator Joseph Lieberman as his running mate, much of the media buzz focused on his Jewish faith. Critics, however, also noted that Lieberman's views on several important issues were closer to those of Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush than Gore.
For example, Lieberman was willing to consider a national missile defense system and the privatization of Social Security, both of which Bush supports.
Bush also believes in vouchers for private education to give parents another option when public schools fail. Gore adamantly opposes vouchers, instead focusing on more funding for troubled schools. Lieberman has supported limited use of vouchers to help those from low-income neighborhoods escape from failing public schools.
But professors agreed that Gore and Liberman's policy differences had minor impact on the campaign.
"I don't think it's made any difference," said John Roos, Notre Dame government professor. "Basically [Lieberman] has indicated clearly that he's the Vice President's second on the ticket."
The differences between Gore and Lieberman can be classified as policy differences, rather than disagreements on core values. From the beginning of the campaign Gore and Lieberman have worked to present a united front on working to help the middle-class.
"Al Gore and I have pretty much walked the same path and when we've had disagreements they've been good-faith disagreements, never disagreements that touch our values," Lieberman told reporters at an August rally.
It isn't unusual for a running mate to have different opinions than the main candidate.
"The clearest analogy could be when Dukakis chose Lloyd Benson as his running mate in 1988," said Sean Savage, associate professor of political science at Saint Mary's. Benton was more conservative, voting for some of the Reagan Administration tax cuts that Dukakis had opposed.
In that election, however, George Bush triumphed. But Democrats hope that Lieberman will provide an extra boost to this year's battle with a member of the Bush family.
"The typical argument made is that [the choice of Lieberman] actually strengthens the ticket, it doesn't weaken it," said Savage. "I think in choosing Lieberman, it was really kind of a symbolic expression of independence from Clinton."
Lieberman was one of the firsts to publicly criticize Clinton. In Lieberman's book "In Praise of the Public Life" he writes, "The Clinton-Lewinski saga is the most vivid example we have of the virus of lost standards."
The true test of Lieberman's value, though, will be on Election Day.
"It looks like it's possible that Gore is going to win Florida," said Roos, noting that Lieberman — popular among the many retired seniors from the Northeast who live there — could be the key to victory in that state.
"No one seems to think that Cheney is going to carry any state," Roos said, noting that Bush would have won traditionally conservative Wyoming without Cheney.
All News Stories for Friday, November 3, 2000