- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sen. John Kerry yesterday accused fellow Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman of adopting “the rhetoric of Dick Cheney” on Iraq, while Mr. Lieberman sought to emphasize his loyalty to the Democratic Party and distance himself from the Bush administration.

“I am concerned that he is making a Republican case,” Mr. Kerry said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“He is uttering almost the same words as Vice President Cheney, and I think it’s inappropriate,” the Massachusetts Democrat said.

However, during an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Mr. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, defended his party credentials and said Mr. Kerry’s comments are politically motivated.

“With all respect to John Kerry, an old friend, that’s just plain politics by somebody who has ambitions of his own,” Mr. Lieberman said. “I am a Democrat. Look at my voting record. I voted 90 percent of the time with the majority of Democrats in the United States Senate. But when I disagree, I’m going to have the courage of my convictions to say so.”

Last week, Mr. Kerry sent an e-mail fundraising request to his supporters on behalf of Mr. Lieberman’s Democratic opponent, Ned Lamont. On ABC yesterday, Mr. Kerry described Mr. Lamont as “courageous.”

“The fact is, Joe Lieberman is out of step with the people of Connecticut,” Mr. Kerry said. “I believe that he’s just dead-wrong with respect to the war. And to adopt the rhetoric of Dick Cheney, who has been wrong about almost everything he has said about Iraq, shows you just exactly why he got in trouble with the Democrats there.”

Both Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lamont support a withdrawal of troops from Iraq, a view Mr. Lieberman forcefully rebuffed during his CBS appearance. “The position that my opponent and others take to set a deadline by which we will get out is the surest way to get to a civil war, which would be dangerous for our troops, a disaster for Iraq, the Middle East and for the United States of America.”

A Quinnipiac poll released last week shows Mr. Lieberman leading Mr. Lamont by 11 percentage points, 49 percent to 38 percent. The Republican nominee, Alan Schlesinger, received 4 percent in the poll. According to the same poll, 75 percent of Connecticut Republicans and 58 percent of independents are supporting the Lieberman campaign.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, offered his tacit support for Mr. Lieberman during his appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Look, Joe Lieberman is a close friend of mine, and I would not campaign against him,” Mr. McCain said. When asked whether he’d like to see Mr. Lieberman win, Mr. McCain responded, “Well, I wouldn’t be disappointed. … Joe Lieberman is great. I think he’s a great American.”

On CBS, Mr. Lieberman defended his stance on the war in Iraq, denying claims by party liberals that he is too close to the Bush administration.

“I’ve been very critical over the years, particularly in 2003 and 2004, about the failure to send enough American troops to secure the country, about the absence of adequate plans and preparation to deal with post-Saddam Iraq,” Mr. Lieberman said. “And I, even on this show in October of 2003, about three years ago, said that we needed a new secretary of defense.”

Mr. Lieberman also denied rumors that he has received the endorsement of Mr. Cheney, Mr. Lieberman’s opponent in the 2000 presidential election. Mr. Cheney told reporters during a recent conference call that Mr. Lamont’s primary victory would be welcomed by al Qaeda and was indicative of the Democratic Party’s weakness.

“When we see the Democratic Party reject one of its own, a man they selected to be their vice presidential nominee just a few short years ago, it would seem to say a lot about the state the party is in today,” Mr. Cheney said.

“Well, that wasn’t an endorsement,” Mr. Lieberman told CBS. “I haven’t sought his endorsement, and I don’t expect it.”

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