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As Joe Lieberman pushes for John McCain, his stock sinks at home

July 1, 2008 |  6:30 pm

Lost in the brouhaha over remarks on CBS' "Face the Nation" by retired Gen. Wesley Clark that discounted John McCain's military record as a presidential qualification -- comments that still dominated much of the political discussion today -- was Joe Lieberman continuing to distance himself from the Democratic Party that nominated him for vice president eight years ago.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut has evolved from the 2000 Democratic vice presidnetial nominee to an ardent supporter of presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain The senator from Connecticut has become one of McCain's most visible and vocal surrogates, and he played that role to the hilt Sunday in an appearance preceding Clark's. Lieberman -- who still caucuses with Senate Democrats, giving them their one-vote majority in the chamber -- pressed the case he's made before that Barack Obama exemplifies a party that has lost its way on foreign policy.

In a time when it doesn't take much to get mentioned as a vice presidential prospect, Lieberman has been bandied about as a potential McCain running mate. That buzz may grow louder short-term, as Lieberman accompanies McCain on a brief trip that began this evening to Colombia and Mexico.

Still, the Lieberman-as-veep scenario seems a stretch -- his liberal record on a raft of domestic issues, including abortion, would only intensify his friend's problems with the GOP base.

But he is a likely hire for a high-profile post in a McCain administration. And, based on a poll of voters in his homestate released today, it may be time for a career move on his part.

The survey by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute found his job approval/disapproval rating basically a wash -- 45% gave him good marks, 43% gave him negative ones (the poll's margin of error is plus-or-minus 2 percentage points).

Lieberman's standing is down from the ratings he received in a March poll, when 52% expressed approval and 35% disapproval.

The new figures also represent the first time his approval rating has dropped below 50% in 14 years of polling by the institute and, overall, his lowest score ever, said the survey's director, Douglas Schwartz.

Most dramatic is the breakdown in party attitudes toward a man who, if Al Gore had won the White House in 2000, presumably would have been next in line as a Democratic presidential nominee.

Among Connecticut Republicans, 70% give him favorable job ratings, 26% were unfavorable. Among the state's Democrats -- who bounced him as their Senate nominee in the 2006 primary, only to see him win re-election as an independent -- 62% rated him unfavorably, 18% favorably.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Associated Press