U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman is known as a champion of morality, and a hawk on Iraq. In the past, he's been endorsed for office by Republicans, including Gov. John G. Rowland.

So when Lieberman announces Monday whether he will run for president, Democrats hope to have a candidate with crossover appeal.

Lieberman's latest approval rating in Connecticut, measured in October, was about 58 percent said Doug Schwartz, the director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

"(Lieberman has) always been remarkably consistent, never taking huge dips, always remaining high," Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz told the Norwich Bulletin. "He's always had great crossover appeal with Republican and unaffiliated voters because of his moderate views on issues."

Republican William Bennett, who teamed with Lieberman to issue "Silver Sewer Awards" for offensive media content, called the Connecticut senator "my favorite Democrat."

But as Al Gore's running mate in 2000, Lieberman drew criticism from Republicans who accused him of softening or abandoning his positions on issues such as school vouchers and affirmative action to secure the votes of the Democratic Party base. Lieberman denied changing his positions.

"I've endorsed him for office in the past, but I can't endorse him this time," Rowland told the Bulletin. "I know a lot of people have said he's changed from being a liberal to a conservative, but as George H. Bush, No. 41, once said, 'Labels are for cans.' But I find him to be a very decent human being. I don't think there's a mean bone in that body or a vile word ever been spoken. I've never seen anger. I think he's a very compassionate guy who really enjoys public service."

At about 10 a.m. Monday, Lieberman, 60, will make an announcement in the auditorium of Stamford High School, where he was class president in 1959.

Barring a change of heart, it is widely expected Lieberman will enter the presidential race.

A fund-raiser benefiting "Joseph Lieberman for President" has been scheduled for Jan. 19 in Washington.

"I have mixed emotions," U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Conn told the Bulletin. "I like him personally, he's always been very cordial and friendly and I think we've had a productive working relationship. He's been very active on issues affecting the 2nd District. "But on the other side, the next two years he'll be focused on a presidential run, and it will be harder to reach him regarding local issues that are important to this area and the state."