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“I don’t believe that this sort of red-meat, ‘I’ll get out quicker than the other guy’ [competition] has resonance,” he said in an interview with Salon on Friday. “You run the risk in a primary of appealing to the New Left … and putting the party nominee in the position he can’t win a general election.”

The Clinton and Obama campaigns did not return calls seeking comment. The Senate takes up the war debate again this week with a defense authorization bill that Democrats will use to push for a troop-withdrawal timetable and war-spending limits.