New book reveals details of Sen. Lieberman's Palin pep-talk

She may be considered a firecracker, but in 2008, Sen. Joe Lieberman says advisers to Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin turned to him to help give a spark to the Alaska governor’s spirits. 

In his new book, The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath, the Independent senator from Connecticut writes that John McCain campaign head Steve Schmidt came to him shortly after Palin’s disastrous interview with Katie Couric. Palin seemed “tired and distracted” while prepping for a debate and Schmidt told Lieberman, “Senator, you have something in common with her that none of the rest of us has. You’re both religious. Please go in there and talk to her and maybe pray with her.”

Lieberman, himself a former vice-presidential candidate, recalls reminding Palin of a biblical story about realizing ones’ destiny, telling her, “You have been given a big opportunity, and you have a choice to make about whether or not you will seize it and your destiny.” An aide told Lieberman that his conversation with Palin was “the best we’ve had all day.”

The Palin pep-talk is one of several revelations in The Gift of Rest, about Lieberman’s observance of the Jewish Sabbath, a practice for which he holds a day of rest each week.

It’s a holy tradition that Lieberman says he has shared with other Washington power players - even those who aren’t necessarily Jewish. The senator reveals that he shared a celebratory dinner on the Sabbath with Al and Tipper Gore the night in 2000 that Florida’s Supreme Court ordered a recount in the contested presidential election. 

After the “joyous, peaceful, and hopeful dinner,” Lieberman says he and wife Haddasah were accompanied by the Gores as they walked back to their Georgetown home: “Sometimes passerby in cars would recognize us and honk their horns and shout out happily. When we got to our house, we hugged and said goodnight and Shabbat Shalom to each other, and the Gores got in their limousine and were driven home.”

Lieberman offers other never-before-heard tidbits from the life of a 20-year Washington vet. He discloses that during the 1990s, while on a plane to Bosnia with John McCain to visit troops there, he started to recite his morning prayers as McCain slept in a seat across the aisle. When McCain suddenly woke up, he blurted out, “Where am I? What is going on!” After Lieberman explained why he was wearing a prayer shawl, McCain responded, “Oh good, for a moment there, Joey, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.” Lieberman quipped, “That says a lot about what kind of person you are, my friend: you think when you get to heaven you’re going to see a lot of Jews praying!”

The Gift of Rest is set to be released on Tuesday. 

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