Former Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-independent who aggressively campaigned against President Barack Obama in 2008 on behalf of Republican John McCain, will lead the charge against Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran for a group opposed to the pact.
On Monday, Lieberman was named chairman of United Against Nuclear Iran, a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group. In announcing Lieberman’s role, the group’s CEO, Mark Wallace, said, “We could find no better leader as the American people consider this flawed Iran agreement.”
“UANI has led the effort to economically isolate the Iranian regime, and its bipartisan and international expertise makes it a highly respected voice on the merits of the Iran agreement,” Lieberman said in a statement. “I am honored to assume this new leadership role at this important time.”
Lieberman replaces Gary Samore, who supports the Iran nuclear deal.
“Gary ultimately supports the agreement and is stepping down to avoid any conflict with UANI’s work in opposition to the agreement,” Wallace said
Lieberman, I-Conn., served in the U.S. Senate from 1989 to 2013, initially as a Democrat. He was Vice President Al Gore’s running mate in the 2000 presidential election against the eventual winning Republican ticket of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. After losing a Connecticut Democratic primary in 2006, Lieberman became an independent and was re-elected to what became his final term in the Senate.
In 2008, he alienated many Democrats by campaigning with Republican presidential candidate McCain, a close friend, against Obama. Lieberman even had a speaking role at the GOP convention that year.
“Sen. Barack Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who I think can do great things for our country in the years ahead, but, my friends, eloquence is no substitute for a record, not in these tough times for America,” Lieberman said at the convention. “In the Senate, during the three-and-a-half years that Sen. Obama has been a member, he has not reached across party lines to get accomplish anything significant, nor has he been willing to take on powerful interest groups in the Democratic Party to get something done.”
The Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to vote next month on the nuclear deal forged by the by Obama administration and five world powers with the Tehran government.
White House officials anticipate that the Republican-controlled Congress will pass legislation opposing the nuclear deal, which Obama would veto.
Administration officials are confident that they can muster the 34 Senate votes or the 146 House votes they need to sustain an Obama veto. Overriding a veto requires two-thirds votes in both chambers.