Sen. Joe Lieberman was treated like an outcast back in 2008 when he broke from the Senate Democratic Caucus and openly opposed Barack Obama’s bid for the White House.Of course, Lieberman is not actually a Democrat anymore. He switched to independent when he lost the Dem primary back in 2006 and won election as an independent.
Asked last week if he’d back Obama in 2012, the Connecticut independent said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
This time around, there may be more Liebermans.
A number of moderate Democrats like Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar and liberals like Sen. Bernie Sanders are declining to give their unqualified support for the president, saying they’re either too focused on their own races or are calling on the White House to cater to their agendas before they will offer an endorsement. Some up for reelection in red states or in swing districts fear that even showing up on stage with Obama will give their opponents an image to seize upon — much as Democrats did in 2008 when they repeatedly flashed shots of Sen. John McCain hugging President George W. Bush.
So as the president faces the dual challenges of energizing his base while wooing moderates, some Democrats in Congress are keeping their distance, with the president’s approval rating hovering in the mid-40s — and even lower in states like West Virginia, where moderate Sen. Joe Manchin is up for reelection.
“I’m supporting the state of West Virginia and the people of West Virginia,” the freshman Democrat said, when asked if he backed the president’s reelection bid.
The other guys are either way left of Obama or somewhat to the right, and both know that's going to cause problems for them with their voters. However, the far lefties will support him absent a primary challenger, and the moderates will end up supporting him or lose money from their own party.
Bottom line, Obama doesn't have to worry about the Dems hanging together. They don't suffer from the same desire for self-destruction that the GOP has.