It’s possible. The Politico is reporting that the Architect himself, Karl Rove, was the friend referred to in a column Robert Novak wrote today about Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). The column says a friend urged Lieberman to call McCain and withdrawal himself for consideration for running mate.
First the Novak column:
Reports of strong support within John McCain’s presidential campaign for Independent Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman as the Republican candidate for vice president are not a fairy tale. Influential McCain backers, plus McCain himself, would pick the pro-choice liberal from Connecticut if they thought they could get away with it.
But they can’t get away with it — and this has been made clear to McCain by none other than Joe Lieberman himself.
Lieberman surely doesn’t know that much about Republican politics, but he has close Republican friends. One of them prevailed on Lieberman to tell McCain that a McCain-Lieberman ticket would be a disaster for all concerned, and especially for the GOP.
Though Novak actually never confirms that Lieberman made that call, he later insinuates that Lieberman did (emphasis mine):
At this writing, nobody knows McCain’s choice. He is keeping the selection process secret, and his closest aides are in the dark. Could he still name Lieberman after being told by Lieberman himself that it is not a good idea? Nobody absolutely rules it out.
That insinuation sent Lieberman and his staff through the roof, apparently, because it doesn’t seem to be true:
Lieberman dismissed the request, these sources agreed.
Lieberman “laughed at the suggestion and certainly did not call [McCain] on it,” said one source familiar with the details.
“Rove called Lieberman,” recounted a second source. “Lieberman told him he would not make that call.”
Whether Lieberman is the right choice is another story. Personally, I think Lieberman is about the worst choice McCain could make, given his pretty liberal record on a number of issues. I have said before that Republicans like him most because of his hawkish foreign policy, but would feel distant from him on pretty much everything else.
Still, if it is true that Rove is trying to insert his hands into this VP selection, I think he needs to butt out. McCain already has a vetting committee. He doesn’t need Karl Rove to involve himself in this selection process.
More importantly, John McCain is a big boy. If he thinks Lieberman is the option that works best for him, that’s his decision, and he doesn’t need Rove to make his mind up for him by preemptively trying to remove one of his options.
Newsflash to Rove: This is John McCain’s campaign, not yours!
(Cross-posted from Poligazette)