Posted: Aug. 28, 2003


By Celia Cohen

Grapevine Political Writer

U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman is bringing his Democratic presidential campaign Friday to Delaware, where he is expected to receive three coveted endorsements from U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, Lt. Gov. John C. Carney Jr. and Treasurer Jack A. Markell.

Lieberman, who ran for vice president in 2000, is the first candidate to make a play for support here since U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., a natural favorite son for Delaware Democrats, announced on Aug. 11 he would not enter the race.

Lieberman, a Connecticut senator since 1988, is fighting for air in a crowded, nine-candidate field in which former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry are regarded as the head of the pack wanting to run against President George W. Bush, the Republican who will be seeking a second term in 2004.

As small as Delaware is, it is in position to provide some measure of traction in the presidential selection calendar. After the voting opens with the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 19 and the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 27, Delaware will hold its primary on Feb. 3 along with a cluster of states including South Carolina, Arizona, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and North Dakota.

Lieberman is scheduled to arrive at the Wilmington train station at 1:15 p.m. and walk to the Riverfront Market for a tour that is open to the public until it concludes at 1:45 p.m. After a private meeting with some local officials, he is scheduled to hold a press conference at 2:10 p.m. at the Christina River pavilion.

It is an open question how much attention Lieberman can attract, coming to Delaware on what is traditionally a huge getaway day for the Labor Day weekend.

The endorsements Lieberman is expected to pick up come from three of the state's most prominent Democrats, all of whom are involved, as Lieberman is, with the Democratic Leadership Council, a national organization of centrist Democrats.

Carper and Carney are scheduled to deliver their endorsements personally, but Markell, who is traveling, is scheduled to endorse by letter.

The visit is Lieberman's second to Delaware in this election cycle. He appeared here in December as the draw for a fund-raiser for Gov. Ruth Ann Minner. At that time, local Democrats firmly were holding back on their presidential choices, waiting for Biden to decide.

Still, Carper was up front then that Lieberman was his fallback choice. "I'm for Joe. If it's not Joe, I'm still for Joe," he quipped.