Barney Frank: A Definite No To Nunn

by Stuart Rothenberg June 20, 2008 · 12:57 PM EDT

Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told the Rothenberg Political Report Friday that he “would have a hard time voting for the [Democratic] ticket” if Sen. Barack Obama picks former United States Sen. Sam Nunn as his vice-presidential running-mate.

Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and the first member of Congress to announce that he is gay, has expressed those views to Eric Holder and Caroline Kennedy, who are leading the search for Obama’s running-mate, as well as to others close to the Illinois Democrat.

The Massachusetts Democrat cites a number of examples of what he calls Nunn’s “real record of hostility” toward gays, placing greatest emphasis on Nunn’s September 1996 vote against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which failed in the Senate by a single vote.

Nunn, who had already announced that he would not run for reelection in 1996, was one of five Democrats who opposed that bill. The others were Howell Heflin (Ala.), Wendell Ford (Ky.), James Exon (Neb.) and Robert Byrd (W.V.).

Frank argues that adding Nunn to the Democratic ticket would cost Obama support in the gay community and would make it impossible for the Massachusetts Congressman to be a strong advocate for the Democratic Presidential nominee.

“I would be virtually useless in trying to convince other gays and lesbians to support the ticket,” said Frank.