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The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"A Jewish national candidate, once unthinkable in America, is now a reality"
 real 56k

Joseph Lieberman
"I have faith in the fairness of the American people"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 8 August, 2000, 03:04 GMT 04:04 UK
Gore deputy backs social policies
Senator Joseph Lieberman
Mr Lieberman has been enthusiastically endorsed
Senator Joseph Lieberman has made a strong commitment to social policy in the wake of his selection as running mate of US Democratic party presidential candidate Al Gore.

Speaking to a crowd of union members, he vowed to make working people a priority, and he condemned Republican pledges to make sweeping changes to the welfare system.

[Al Gore] is without doubt a more qualified, honourable candidate

Joseph Lieberman
"This Republican ticket will take us back to the failed policies of the past," he said, referring to opposition moves to stall developing healthcare and minimum wages legislation.

Mr Lieberman will become the first Jewish candidate for the vice-presidency in American history after being offered the role in a telephone call from Al Gore.

Joseph Lieberman
Lieberman: First Jewish vice-presidential candidate
The senator went on to lavish praise on Al Gore, calling him a "full partner" of President Clinton, with wide experience in economic, social and foreign policy.

"He is without doubt a more qualified, honourable, more progressive and more hard-working candidate [than George W Bush]," he said.

Strong support

Senior Democratic party figures and Jewish leaders have moved quickly to endorse Mr Lieberman.

Lieberman brings talent, sincerity and the courage of his convictions to public service

Bill Bradley, Democratic party
"Joe Lieberman brings a new strength to the Democratic ticket and a new depth to this campaign," said the Senate's Democratic leader Tom Daschle.

"The entire community should be proud to have him in such a visible and important role," said Tim Wuliger, the president of the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee.

However, some US political commentators expressed views that neither the Democratic nor the Republican running mates would have much effect on the battle for the White House.

"Joseph Lieberman is well regarded," said Stuart Rothenburg, editor of the non-alligned Rothenburg political report newsletter.

"I used the same words to describe Dick Cheney... I don't see either guy shaking up the race," he added.

'Intelligence and integrity'

The Republican Party has emphasised the closeness between Mr Lieberman's position and many of their own policies.

A spokesman for George W Bush said their party respected Mr Lieberman's 'intelligence and integrity'.

Mr Lieberman was a strong supporter of the 1990 Gulf war, which took place during Dick Cheney's tenure as Defence Secretary.

Monica Lewinsky
Lieberman denouced the president for his affair with Ms Lewinsky
BBC Washington correspondent Paul Reynolds says Mr Lieberman's selection is significant because he was one of the first Democrats to speak out against President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Our correspondent says the denunciation gave Mr Lieberman moral stature and the appointment will do much to help Mr Gore distance himself from the Clinton-era scandals.

An official announcement is expected on Tuesday at noon, when the vice-president kicks off a week-long tour through the battleground states aimed at eroding Republican rival George W Bush's double-digit lead in opinion polls.

Correspondents say Mr Gore hopes that his selection at the 14 August convention will give him the opinion poll boost he needs in order to build momentum for the White House.

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See also:

07 Aug 00 | Americas
Joe Lieberman: Moral crusader
07 Aug 00 | Americas
Lieberman: The Jewish factor
24 Jun 00 | Americas
Gore declares: 'Truth is my friend'
14 Jan 00 | Vote USA 2000
Q&A: Big bucks politics
05 Aug 00 | Americas
What makes a great president?
04 Aug 00 | Americas
Bush eyes White House
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