PEORIA, Ill., Sept. 5 (AP)--Vice-presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman said Tuesday that religion should be part of public life and politicians have an obligation to make America's "moral future better by the tone we set."
He acknowledged some of his comments about faith have been misconstrued, including his use of a quote from George Washington's farewell address: "I never felt that he meant that religion was the only source of morality, but in an open society he was saying religion is one good source of good values," Lieberman said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
Lieberman voiced support for parents who launch independent, public prayers from the stands before high school football games--saying "God bless them"-- but backed the Supreme Court's ban on school prayer as "an official authority, a government, saying you must pray in this particular way."
Lieberman spoke at the start of a day designed to try to convince middle-class voters in the Midwest that Al Gore's plans for targeted tax cuts are better for them than an across-the-board tax cut proposed by Republican rival George W. Bush.
Lieberman, the Connecticut senator, was holding a roundtable with some Illinois families at a local coffee house to discuss the Democratic ticket's plans for tax cuts to help with child care, elder care, and college tuition. He was holding a similar town hall meeting later in the day with families in the St. Louis area.
Gore's $500 billion plan for selected tax relief includes a $3,000 tax credit for people who need or provide long-term care at home, $2,400 to help poor families pay for child care, and a provision making up to $10,000 in college tuition tax-deductible annually.
Bush's $1.3 trillion tax cut plan would reduce all income tax rates, with the lowest rate dropping to 10% and the highest to 33%. He also would double the child tax credit to $1,000.
On Monday, Lieberman told some 700 people, most of them union workers, in Detroit that he would keep pushing for a place for religion in public life. Lieberman is the first Orthodox Jew ever to run for vice president on a major party ticket.
"If you see men and women as created in the image of God, then you will not treat them as extensions of machines, as pure things to take advantage of, and that is what the labor movement is about, justice to people, fairness to people," Lieberman said.
Lieberman raised eyebrows last week when he asserted in a speech at a Detroit church that religious faith should have a greater role in American public life.
"I gave kind of a sermon and some people objected to it because I talked about the place of faith in American life," he told the union rally. "Some people say, 'Don't say that.' I'm going to keep saying it because I believe that's what most Americans believe. It unites us."
Lieberman pledged that he and Gore would fight for workers' rights, saying they respect working men and women.
"You can say that the labor movement was built on values that come from faith, that were enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, all of us are created equal. Where did that equality come from? It was an endowment of our Creator," he said.