CLEVELAND – Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Joe Lieberman (search) visited a downtown fire station Monday to emphasize what he said will be a cornerstone of his campaign, more federal money for first responders.
Lieberman said he wants President Bush to ease up on tax cuts, find more money to hire and train firefighters and buy more equipment that could be used in the event of a terrorist attack.
States and localities will receive $1.5 billion to help pay for the costs of increasing security during the war in Iraq, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge (search) has said. That's in addition to $1.6 billion in federal funds already going to state and local governments.
"If we really want to keep the American people safe, we've got to invest money in it," Lieberman said.
The Connecticut Democrat also said he will soon present a plan that will aim to promote manufacturing in the United States.
Lieberman, Al Gore's runningmate on the 2000 Democratic ticket, is perhaps the most well-known of the Democratic candidates and perhaps the most centrist candidate.
He made his stance evident in a debate Saturday in Columbia, S.C., by strongly approving the U.S.-led war in Iraq and criticizing "big-spending Democratic ideas of the past" such as expensive health care programs.
Lieberman, at an appearance with no political fanfare, sat at a table in the city's No. 1 fire station with the city's safety director, fire chief and eight firefighters.
Chief Kevin Gerrity mentioned that Cleveland lacks financial resources to adequately train against terrorism.
The Bush administration "has left the cupboard effectively bare so that there is not money ... to back up its promise to keep the American people safe and secure here at home," Lieberman said.
He said some of Bush's proposed tax cuts ought to be set aside for pressing needs, including homeland security.
Lieberman said he intends to make the nation's manufacturing base an issue in his campaign. Ohio's manufacturing sector has been hard hit during the recession.
"We're not going to be a strong economy unless we are making things here in America," Lieberman said.
Outside the fire station, Lieberman noted several ways the nation can revive its manufacturing base, including tax credits.
"Part of it is to invest in education and innovation and to create new companies that will create high-tech jobs and to use some of the muscle of the federal government to buy products made in America," Lieberman said.
He added, "We can't have everything we buy made somewhere else in the world and all we have are service jobs."
Lieberman also had several private meetings Monday in Cleveland, including one with Mayor Jane Campbell, before a public reception with young professionals.
Other Democrats who took part in the Saturday presidential debate were Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Bob Graham of Florida; Reps. Dick Gephardt of Missouri and Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, whose district includes parts of Cleveland; former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean; former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and civil rights activist Al Sharpton.