Maer Roshan: No sooner had Al Gore chosen Joe Lieberman as his running mate than he shot up fifteen points in the polls. Surprised?
Al D'Amato: Nonsense. Nonsense! That's overnight polling, and it's just not accurate. It reflects the heat of the moment. Having said that, I do believe that after the Democratic convention they're gonna get another bounce, and that this election will be a statistical dead heat. It'll go down to the wire.
Ed Koch: I agree with Al, that all of these poll numbers are transitory, but it was remarkable that Bush got a seventeen-point lead -- that he lost it in two days is even more amazing. And it has to be attributed to the nomination of Joe Lieberman, which is a home run. Of course, people are scared of anti-Semitism.They ask, is this good for the Jews? But that's a question that my father would have asked. It's not a question that anyone in today's society should ask anymore. My own feeling is that if it's good for the country, it's good for the Jews.
Al: I agree with Ed, that Lieberman's a stellar choice. Ironically, his great strengths will only make Gore look worse in comparison. People'll say, Lieberman's the man who should be running for president. He's the man who had the courage to chastise President Clinton. He's the man who said that the raising of funds, and the manner in which it was done, was inappropriate. He would never have gone to the Buddhist temple to raise money and then make believe he didn't know it was a fund-raiser. The worst thing that can happen to a presidential candidate is to look bad in comparison with your running mate.
Ed: I agree with Al that people will still vote for the guy at the top of the ticket.
Al: And the contrast between Gore and Lieberman is mind-boggling. School vouchers, Social Security, the military -- Gore and Lieberman don't agree on any of these things.
Ed: I think the fact that they don't have the same clone ideas is good for the ticket. Lieberman is never gonna step on Gore's toes, but he's not giving up his own positions.
M.R.: Preliminary polls show that Lieberman's Jewishness is not really an issue for most people. Do you believe that?
Ed: Absolutely. Eleven senators are Jewish! I think there are over 30 in the House of Representatives . . . and Jews are 2 percent of the population. People don't care.
Al: You know, people who have a problem with the fact that he's Jewish are going to vote for Buchanan anyway.
M.R.: So neither of you believes Gore's gonna lose votes because of this. How many will he gain?
Ed: Maybe a few. Not all Jews will vote Democrat, though.
Al: In swing states like Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, all of which have significant Jewish populations, this may make the difference. If only we could have gotten Colin Powell . . .
Ed: The Republicans were dummies! They should have forced Powell to be on the Republican ticket.
Al: I agree. And by the way, I predict that George W. will offer him secretary of State, which would also be very exciting. Because it would demonstrate that "compassionate conservatism" was more than sloganeering.
Ed: Which, aside from a few speeches, it mostly is.
M.R.: How freaked out should Rick Lazio be?
Ed: Rick Lazio is probably sobbing as we speak laughter. You know, everything was going so nicely, but now, thanks to Joe Lieberman, the vote's gonna change appreciably. Now he will be here to vouch for Hillary, and his presence will energize the Jewish vote. Jews already are 54 percent in favor of Hillary. If she gets 60, she'll win.
Al: I think Ed overstates. I think all Lazio needs to do is keep stressing his accomplishments, and he'll do fine. Hillary has little to offer.
M.R.: Senator, the Times recently reported that you were so disgusted with Lazio's grandstanding on housing issues when you were both in office that you haven't talked to him in years.
Al: Bull! But what do you expect from the Times? I'm one of Lazio's biggest supporters. I have raised over $200,000 for him. I've contributed to him personally. My family -- including my son -- has contributed to him personally. My brother supports him, and Mama D'Amato will, too. So do the math -- I support him, I endorse him, I raise money for him . . .
Ed: Laughs And someday you'll talk to him, too!