Lieberman hails his 'dream ticket' with Gore

Vice President introduces his choice of running mate and reaps dividend at the opinion polls as Bush's lead is cut to two points
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The Independent US

Senator Joseph Lieberman, the first Jew to be nominated on a US presidential ticket, was introduced to the American public yesterday at an exuberant rally in Nashville, where Vice-President Al Gore has his campaign headquarters.

Senator Joseph Lieberman, the first Jew to be nominated on a US presidential ticket, was introduced to the American public yesterday at an exuberant rally in Nashville, where Vice-President Al Gore has his campaign headquarters.

The rally was held in warm sunshine in front of Nashville's war memorial, and both candidates, otherwise formally dressed, sported shirtsleeves.

Lauding his running mate as a man of supreme integrity, Mr Gore said that he was a "fighter for working families" and - in a dig against his Republican opponents' oil fortunes - "a fighter against the big oil companies". No one, he said, was better prepared to be Vice-President of the United States.

Quoting from the Old Testament Book of Chronicles, Mr Lieberman paid tribute to Mr Gore's courage in "breaching the barrier" to name a Jew as his running mate and pledged to "use every ounce of strength and capacity the Good Lord has given me to make Mr Gore the next great President of the United States". The Gore-Lieberman ticket, he said, was the "American Dream Team".

The paradox of an Orthodox Jew being presented and feted in the unofficial capital of the Southern Bible Belt was seen by the Gore campaign as a happy conjunction of circumstances that illustrated the broad appeal of a Gore-Lieberman ticket.

Attempting to link the two, Mr Lieberman's Czech-born wife, Hadassah, noted that the memorial plaza where the rally took place commemorated the American soldiers who had helped to liberate her parents from the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Dachau.

Praise for Mr Gore's pioneering choice of the Connecticut Senator continued to echo around the country yesterday. Jewish groups were especially enthusiastic. "Clearly, the fact that being a Jew is no longer an impediment to the highest office marks a turning point. It's a historic moment that we can all celebrate," said Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress.

Bill Bradley, Mr Gore's defeated rival for the Democratic nomination during an often bitter race, was equally enthusiastic. Mr Lieberman, he said, "brings talent, sincerity and the courage of his convictions to his public service". Mr Lieberman and Mr Bradleyshare a passion for reform of the political funding system.

Even as Mr Gore and Mr Lieberman prepared to set off for Mr Gore's hometown of Carthage and Mr Lieberman's home of Stamford in Connecticut, however, the first note of discord was intruding. An unattributed report said that Mr Lieberman had been warned by the Gore campaign not to campaign on one aspect of his ideas for state pension reform. Mr Lieberman believes that people should be able to invest some of their obligatory pension contributions into stocks and shares - a scheme similar to one advocated by the Republican candidate, George W Bush, but denounced as too "risky" by Mr Gore.

With the Democratic convention in Los Angeles looming, pundits questioned whether the inclusion on the ticket of Mr Lieberman, an outpoken critic of Bill Clinton's liaison with Monica Lewinsky, would be sufficient to banish the shadow of President Clinton from Mr Gore's candidacy.

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