Operation: Liebermania goes knocking on doors in New Hampshire

concord, n.h. | When “Operation: Liebermania’ landed on her doorstep, Kathleen Timbas was ready.

Notified in advance that Sen. Joe Lieberman would be campaigning door-to-door Sunday, she waited for the Democratic presidential hopeful with a list of questions scrawled on a legal pad. She squeezed in two — one about health care and another about the environment — before the senator moved on.

“I found it helpful,’ said Timbas, a financial analyst who favors one of Lieberman’s rivals, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. “I’m not sure I got a solution on the environmental issues, but he helped lead me to some ideas I wasn’t familiar with.’

Though billed as part of “an all-out campaign blitz,’ Lieberman maintained his thoughtful, low-key style as he knocked on half a dozen doors in downtown Concord. Often, his young, sign-waving supporters drowned him out with their cheer and chanting.

“Just another quiet day in the neighborhood,’ Lieberman joked. But the Connecticut senator later turned up the volume in Manchester for his first town hall-style meeting, where he relished the standing ovations and frequent applause as he answered questions on everything from affordable housing to education to alternative medicine.

One audience member described a co-worker who questioned whether Lieberman, because he is Jewish, could be an effective mediator in bringing peace to the Middle East.

Asked how he would “answer such a racist charge,’ Lieberman spoke of his pride in his heritage and said the question should have been answered when John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, was elected president.

“I am convinced the question is not one’s religion but one’s policies — look at the difficulties George W. Bush has had,’ Lieberman said. “I’m convinced I can move the process further toward reconciliation than anyone else running for president.’

Lieberman also repeated his criticism that Bush has underfunded homeland security, forcing communities around the country to lay off firefighters and police officers. “That is about as foolish — I was going to use a stronger unpresidential word — as an army laying off soldiers in the middle of a war,’ he said.