HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, who staked his Senate career on a tough U.S. response to terrorism following the 9/11 attacks, has emerged from retirement to again jump into the fray.
Elected to a fourth and final term in 2006 as an independent after his pro-Iraq war stance cost him the Democratic Party’s nomination, Lieberman now is lobbying against the nuclear deal negotiated by the United States and others to force concessions from Iran in its nuclear program.
“I don’t see my opposition to the Iran agreement as a continuation to what I supported in Iraq,” he told The Associated Press in a phone interview Friday. “It is post-9/11. It is in opposition to a country like Iran, which is essentially run by an extremist terrorist government getting nuclear weapons, which I think this agreement essentially allows them to do.”
Lieberman, who retired in January 2013, has joined the advisory board of Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, which is running ads urging Americans to lobby members of Congress to reject the deal submitted by President Barack Obama. The group is backed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an influential pro-Israel lobby.
Others on the advisory board are former Democratic senators: Evan Bayh of Indiana, Mark Begich of Alaska and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Former Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley of Nevada also is on the board.
The political affiliations reflect an effort to win over Democrats in Congress to join the Republican majority to override a certain veto by Obama if the House and Senate reject the deal. The state’s congressional delegation is composed entirely of Democrats.
Lieberman is used to taking a foreign policy stance in opposition to the prevailing views of fellow Democrats. He was a popular Democratic state senator, attorney general and U.S. senator before his selection by Al Gore as the 2000 vice-presidential nominee.
He backed President George W. Bush’s Iraq war policy, inflaming a broad swath of Connecticut Democrats and alienating himself from the party that was his political home for more than 30 years.
“One of the reasons I remain a registered Democrat is because I hope for a JFK return to a muscular and freedom-based foreign policy,” he said.
Lieberman says he’ll lobby his successor, Sen. Chris Murphy, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Murphy supports the Iran deal, though he’s still studying it, consulting with experts and speaking to constituents in Connecticut, he said. “I have long supported solving the Iran nuclear problem through diplomacy,” he said.
He was elected to the House in 2006, he said, “in part due to my opposition to the Iraq war.”
“I was deeply disturbed by the wrong way America conducted itself in the Middle East,” Murphy said.
Blumenthal remains undecided.
“I want to make sure that this agreement will in fact stop a nuclear armed Iran, which would be a national security catastrophe for the United States as well as for our allies around the world,” he said.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro said she will “carefully review” the deal to make sure it is based on verification rather than trust.
Reps. Joe Courtney, Elizabeth Esty and John Larson also are reviewing the deal and Rep. Jim Himes hasn’t taken a position, a spokesman said.
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