Senator Joe Lieberman Criticizes Democrats' Stance on Iran

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," November 8, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: In the meantime, developing right now: Joe Lieberman on a warpath with Democrats, says that a lot more of them are more worried about how the Bush Administration might respond to Iran's murder of our troops than the fact that Iran is murdering our troops, period.

As I said, Joe Lieberman said that. Joe Lieberman here now to discuss that.

Senator, good to have you.

Those are harsh words.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: Well, this was — now, thanks, Neil. Good to be back with you.

This was part of a speech I gave at Johns Hopkins University this morning, in which I talked about a tradition of the Democratic Party that I grew up in, with President Truman, Kennedy, even Clinton and Gore — internationalist, idealistic, willing to use force to protect our security and our values. And we have lost it for now.

President Bush has picked it up. And I argue here that we should stop worrying so much about our political distaste for President Bush, or Democrats' distaste, and find common ground to protect our security.

And the reason I talked about the Iran and our troops in Iraq is this Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which 20 Democrats — almost 40 percent of the Democratic caucus in the Senate, voted against, not because they disagree that there should be sanctions on this Iranian terrorist group, but because they are worried that President Bush could use it as a basis for war against Iran. It's just not there on the facts.

So, it's a troubling time when you get to a point where elected officials are more worried about what Bush might do than they're worried about what — to Iran — than they are worried about the fact that Iran is killing American soldiers.

CAVUTO: But you went one extra step today, Senator. You have always spoken your own mind. You have been very gentlemanly in that when referring to Democrats. But, but this took on a new, more hostile tone today, or am I just imagining that?

LIEBERMAN: Well, it was in an academic setting. I hope it wasn't too hostile.

But I — it was direct because, look, this is an appeal to the Democratic Party — of which I am still a member, though an independent Democrat — to come back to our roots, which are the principled, internationalist, ready to use our military power to defend our security and interests tradition.

Incidentally, that's — when that point of view prevailed, Democrats were not only doing what was right for the country, but what was successful politically, because, ultimately, the people of America want leadership that they can trust to protect them in a dangerous world.

And there was this ironic flip that I talked about in my speech today, which was that, during the 2000 campaign, Vice President Gore actually was running the hawkish, internationalist campaign. Then-Governor Bush was talking about a humble foreign policy and against nation-building and the U.S. as the policemen of the world.

After 9/11, President Bush totally turned around and started to talk about the spread of democracy, the war we were in with a totalitarian enemy — in this case, radical Islam — and how important it was that we saw it as a fight between, literally, good and evil, freedom and tyranny.

And, Democrats, instead of maintaining the tradition — the strong tradition of the party, flipped and turned against that policy. And...


CAVUTO: Well, well that is a view — that is a view, as you know, sir, that is the widespread sentiment among virtually all the Democratic presidential candidates.

Is it safe to say that, as things stand now, Joe Lieberman would vote for a Republican over a Democrat for the White House?

LIEBERMAN: Well, it's too early to say.

But this is my appeal to my party and the people who are attempting to be the presidential candidates of the Democratic Party: Stop playing just to the anti-war inner core of the Democratic Party. Think about Truman and Kennedy and Clinton and Gore, and — and think about that tradition that really was embraced by President Reagan, now by President Bush.

So, my bottom line, I'm enjoying, for the first time in three national elections, Neil, not being a candidate.


LIEBERMAN: I'm doing — I'm doing what most people do...

CAVUTO: All right.

LIEBERMAN: ... which is to follow the candidates.


LIEBERMAN: But, in the end, I'm going to support the candidate I think is best for our country, regardless of what party that candidate is from.

CAVUTO: Senator Joe Lieberman, always good seeing you, sir. Thank you very, very much.

LIEBERMAN: You, too, my friend. Take care.

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