The White House funneled millions of dollars through major Republican Party contributors to Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s primary campaign in a failed effort to ensure the support of the former Democrat for the Bush administration.So what does the GOP expect to get for its money?
A senior GOP source said the money was part of Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove's strategy to maintain a Republican majority in the Senate in November. The source said Mr. Rove, together with Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, directed leading pro-Bush contributors to donate millions of dollars to Mr. Lieberman's campaign for re-election in Connecticut in an attempt that he would be a "Republican-leaning" senator.
"Joe [Lieberman] took the money but said he would not play ball," the source said. "That doesn't mean that this was a wasted investment."
Mr. Rove has been responsible for the White House’s effort to ensure a GOP majority in Congress for the last two years of Bush's presidency. Internal party polls show the GOP could lose between 30 and 40 seats in the House as well as its majority in the Senate. A Democratic majority in the Senate would require the GOP to lose at least six seats.
The source said that under Mr. Rove's direction, the GOP has abandoned its Senate candidate in Connecticut, Alan Schlesinger, who has dropped to about five percent in the polls. Mr. Schlesinger has failed to win the support of any national Republican and has virtually no contact with the White House.
In contrast, Mr. Lieberman, who has called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, was deemed a major component of the GOP strategy in November. Mr. Lieberman is expected to win the general election after losing the Democratic primary to anti-war challenger Ned Lamont. However, the race with Mr. Lamont has been tightening considerably.
"The more he [Lieberman] spits, the more that he [Bush] kisses," Mr. Schlesinger said. "I don't understand that. I guess a kiss is not just a kiss." ...
Mr. Lieberman has raised most of his money from outside Connecticut. The veteran senator has turned his re-election campaign into a test of patriotism and support for the U.S. military presence in Iraq.
The source said that under Mr. Rove's plan, Mr. Lieberman would vote with the GOP on national security issues and help provide the party with a 50-50 split on major legislation. The deciding vote would then be cast by Vice President Dick Cheney.
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