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Lieberman jokes about recount, visits MacDill during Tampa stop

By DAVID KARP, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 22, 2002


TAMPA -- When we last saw U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in this neighborhood, the sun was dawning on Election Day 2000.

TAMPA -- When we last saw U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in this neighborhood, the sun was dawning on Election Day 2000.

Lieberman had campaigned all night and arrived at a coffee shop in west Tampa around 4 a.m. The Cuban coffee was so strong, he joked Monday, that it kept him awake for 24 hours, through the first vote count that Gore won, then lost, then won, then lost 36 days later.

"If I were vice president, I wouldn't have the thrill of being here with you today," Lieberman said Tuesday at the Beulah Baptist Institutional Church near downtown Tampa. "They would probably have me locked up in a bunker."

Lieberman joked Monday about his failed vice presidential bid, but his trip to Florida on Martin Luther King Jr. Day made his future political ambitions obvious. Many think the Connecticut senator, who made stops in Jacksonville and West Palm Beach this week, may be laying the groundwork for a future presidential run.

"I am certainly not closing any doors, but I am not rushing through them either," Lieberman said.

After a fundraiser in West Palm Beach, Lieberman spoke at the MLK parade in Tampa, attended a forum at a historically black church near downtown and schmoozed with party loyalists at Alessi's bakery.

Lieberman joked repeatedly about losing the closest presidential election in history.

"I came back to Tampa and Hillsborough County to see if we can count a few more votes," Lieberman told the parade crowd.

Later, he urged the largely black crowds to make sure their votes count in 2002, when Democrats hope to unseat Gov. Jeb Bush.

"There was not only a miscount of votes, but a miscarriage of justice," he said.

Later, Lieberman, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, D-Tampa, were briefed at MacDill Air Force Base about the war. They watched live video from surveillance planes over central Asia.

Lieberman said the United States should stay in Afghanistan to rebuild the country to ensure it does not again become a haven for America's enemies. He also said the United States might strike against terrorists in Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and other countries in the horn of Africa soon.

He also urged striking against Saddam Hussein, the leader of Iraq.

"I just view him as a time bomb -- a missile pointed at the United States," he said.

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