WASHINGTON (JTA) – All across the nation over the next two weeks, the American people will be voting in a tightly contested election that will help determine who will be the next president.
In this election, however, we are not just choosing our next president. We are also choosing our commander-in-chief – the person whose No. 1 job will be to defend our nation at a time of war.
And have no doubt: We are at war.
Although much of this war unfolds in the shadows, it remains deadly real. Every day, in fact, our terrorist enemies are working feverishly to strike at us and our allies around the world, from the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan and – if given the chance – right here at home in America.
From the moment the next president steps into the Oval Office, he or she will be confronted with life-and-death decisions that will make the difference between victory and defeat in this war.
That is why I believe we need a president who is ready to be commander-in-chief from day one – a president who won’t need on-the-job training.
And that is why I have decided to cross party lines to endorse U.S. Sen. John McCain for president.
I know that it is unusual for someone who is not a Republican to support a GOP candidate for president. But the dangers we face as a nation are too profound, and the challenges we face too real, for us to play partisan politics with the presidency.
After all, the Islamist extremists we are fighting in this war do not distinguish between Democrats and Republicans. They want to kill all of us, irrespective of our political differences, because we are all Americans.
I have worked with Sen. McCain on just about every major national security issue over the past 20 years – from stopping the genocide in the Balkans, to reducing our dependence on foreign oil, to creating the 9/11 Commission and enacting its recommendations into law. I have seen Sen. McCain, time and again, rise above the negativism and pettiness of our politics to get things done for the country he loves so much.
Sen. McCain has quite literally dedicated his life in service to America. He has fought in uniform on the front lines against America’s enemies, and has been tested under fire like no other candidate in this race.
It is more than his unrivaled experience that makes Sen. McCain so qualified to become president, however. It is character and leadership.
Throughout his career, John McCain has proven that we can trust him to do what is right for our country, not only when it is easy, but when it is hard – and to do what is necessary, not only when it is popular, but when it means standing against the tide.
When others were silent, John had the courage and the conviction to sound the alarm about the mistakes we were making in Iraq, and to call for more troops and a new strategy there. And when others wavered, and were ready to flee the field of battle, John had the courage and the conviction to stand against public opinion and fight for the surge in Iraq – where at last today the forces of Islamist extremism are on the run, and we are winning.
This is the kind of leadership we as a nation desperately need in the years ahead – and it is the kind of leadership that you can expect when John McCain is in the White House.
There are many fine people running for the presidency this year. But when it comes to keeping America safe and solving our most important problems, I firmly believe that John McCain is the candidate who has the experience, the strength and the character to bring our country together and lead us forward.
We need a president who is a proven leader on national security matters and someone who can reunite our country, restore faith in our government and rebuild confidence in America’s future.
John McCain is just that person and I would urge you to vote for him when you go to the polls.
Joe Lieberman is a U.S. senator from Connecticut.