Lieberman doesn't agree with Gore's populist themes|
WASHINGTON (AP) — Al Gore's 2000 running mate said Sunday that Gore's populist themes did not accurately reflect the Democrats' pro-growth campaign for the White House.
"The people versus the powerful theme was too subject to misunderstanding and not representative" of the economic growth that occurred during the 1990s under President Clinton and Vice President Gore, said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn.
The populist approach, Lieberman said, was "also not expressive of the fiscally responsible, pro-growth, grow-the-middle-class campaign we were running" that included targeted tax cuts and other centrist proposals championed by the Democratic Leadership Council.
The vice presidential nominee in 2000 responded to an op-ed piece by Gore in Sunday's The New York Times that was critical of centrist Democrats, including Lieberman, who said Gore's approach made it harder in 2000 to attract middle-class swing voters.
Lieberman also repeated this pledge that he will not run for the White House in 2004 if Gore seeks a rematch with President Bush.
"Out of gratitude and out of friendship for the extraordinary opportunity that Al gave me to run with him in 2000, I've said that I will not run if he runs, and I will not," he said on Fox News Sunday.
Gore took issue with what he called "the suggestion from some in our party that we should no longer speak the truth. ... This struggle between the people and the powerful was at the heart of every major domestic issue of the 2000 campaign and is still the central dynamic of politics in 2002."
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said Gore "took a shot, I thought, at his old vice presidential running mate." Lott said Gore's focus on "old class warfare" was a major reason the Democrats no longer hold the White House.
"It was the old, failed politics that helped him lose that last election," Lott said on ABC's This Week.
On the same program, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said Gore, Lieberman and other Democrats should concentrate on the economy and issues such as retirement security in the fall congressional campaigns.
"You know, the president has said that you could describe his ... economic plan in one word, jobs. Well, we've lost 1.7 million jobs since this administration took office. So that's where we have to put our focus," said Daschle, D-S.D.
Lieberman said that he does not reject Gore's populism in total, particularly in light of repeated recent instances of corporate wrongdoing and shady accounting practices.
To his past criticisms of Gore's approach, Lieberman said, he should have added that "we believe in a government that will stand up and fight for the people, for the public interest against the powerful private interests, including business, if they treat people unfairly."
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