Lieberman's faith not seen as an issue

August 12, 2000

Lieberman's faith not seen as an issue


Did Vice President Al Gore make the right choice when he selected Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman as his running mate?

Absolutely, said Washington County Democratic Chairman Rick Hemphill.

"Lieberman will help Gore in the states he needs the most - New York, Illinois," Hemphill said.

Yet even the political-savvy Hemphill said he'd like to know more about the 58-year-old, two-term senator from Stamford, Conn.

Hemphill wasn't alone. An informal survey of Tri-State residents on Saturday found many wanted to know more about Lieberman.

At the same time, many residents said Lieberman's Jewish faith should not be an issue in the election. Lieberman is the first Jew to run on a major national ticket.

"Over the past 10 years America has opened up more. This is the right time for it. He's got a lot going for him," said Tim Hirth, 30, a Republican from Martinsburg, W.Va.


Mike Jackson, 25, of Martinsburg, W.Va., echoed similar sentiments.

"Nationality, race shouldn't affect anything. We're all of different races. When I look, I don't see nationalities, different races, I see people."

Wanda Frain, 28, of Zullinger, Pa., said religion shouldn't be an issue in politics.

"Everybody's having a fit because Lieberman's Jewish," Frain said. "Religion doesn't matter."

But Lee Seltzer, 22, of Chambersburg, Pa., said he had a problem with Lieberman quoting scripture in the public arena when the Democrats have "been so big into separating church and state, especially with schools."

Al and Mary Jane Moats of Inwood, W.Va., said the Gore-Lieberman ticket reflects "all the right reasons that the Republicans don't have."

Al Moats, 72, said Lieberman reminds him of President Carter.

"I like the way he speaks. He's a smart guy."

He added Lieberman is a better choice than his GOP counterpart, Dick Cheney.

"He has more experience than Cheney. The only time you saw Cheney was during the Gulf War," Moats said.

Mary Jane Moats, 53, said she likes Lieberman because he is "not one to jump into things."

Bill Smith, 67, of Hagerstown, said he admires Lieberman's moral values, and thinks the vice presidential hopeful embodies the rare combination of political savvy and ethical conduct.

Smith said Gore made a good choice.

"I think it's the greatest thing that's ever happened," he said.

Nearby, Hagerstown flea market vendor Dennis Broadwater agreed that Lieberman's values "are what people are looking for right now."

"I think he's a pretty good choice," said Broadwater, 33, of Hagerstown.

His mother, Hancock resident Ruby Broadwater, was hesitant to pass judgment too quickly.

"He sounds pretty good so far," she said. "He's sort of way out in left field and that may be just what we need right now."

Some visitors to the Leitersburg Peach Festival said they were impressed by Lieberman's decision to publicly condemn President Clinton's behavior with a White House intern.

Frank and Monica Ymbert, of Smithsburg, said they make note of such individual actions before casting their ballots at the election box.

"We care," said Monica Ymbert, 32. "We vote for the individual instead of the party."

Her husband, 36, agreed, but said it's still too soon to tell whether Lieberman will live up to his reputation.

"He seems to be a good man morally," said June Broadwater, 75, of Chambersburg, Pa.

But the staunch Republican said she won't cross party lines to support the Gore-Lieberman ticket.

"George W. will do it," said fellow Republican Ronnie Jefer, 61, of Hagerstown. "I think that Gore and Lieberman would both do very well in private enterprise. ... They both grew up in a political vacuum, not in the real world."

Smithsburg resident John Martin, a peach grower, also said he couldn't support Lieberman because he was linked with Gore.

"I'm sure not a Gore fan. Gore is not a friend of the farmer," Martin said. "And I think Lieberman was selected by him to dilute the immorality of the president."

Leitersburg resident Tom McCall recalled his father's favorite political quote: "There's not an honest politician in the country."

David Holcomb, 40, of Hedgesville, W.Va., was also suspect of the Gore-Lieberman ticket.

"It's a ploy. It will do more for Hillary (Clinton's) campaign in New York than it will do for Al Gore," he said. Holcomb added he's supporting George W. Bush because "he'll bring back dignity to the White House, something that's been sorely lacking."

Eric Adams, 33, of Martinsburg, W.Va., noted it really didn't matter who gets elected.

"The county does well despite who is in charge."

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