- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2006

Sen. Joe Lieberman said he has been “scapegoated” by fellow Democrats for supporting the war in Iraq and dismissed his opponent — millionaire businessman Ned Lamont, whom polls show with a substantial lead going into the Connecticut primary tomorrow — as a “one-trick pony.”

“I’ve been scapegoated,” Mr. Lieberman said yesterday on ABC’s “This Week.” “I have not hesitated to criticize the conduct of this war, but I will not play partisan politics with this. I will not take cheap shots because our future security is on the line.”

Mr. Lieberman was scheduled to appear last night in Hartford with former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia — whom many Democrats say was the victim of unfair campaign tactics in 2002 — to deliver what he called his “closing argument,” accusing Mr. Lamont of spending nearly $4 million of his own money to distort his record.

“The more I have talked to voters in these closing days, the more I am concerned they have been shortchanged in this campaign,” the three-term incumbent said, according to prepared remarks of last night’s Hartford speech. “Instead of hearing an honest debate about the issues that really matter to people, they have been overwhelmed with bogus charges about my Democratic credentials.”

During the past six months, Mr. Lamont has eroded Democrats’ support for Mr. Lieberman by accusing him of being too cozy with President Bush, especially on the administration’s Iraq policy.

Mr. Lamont’s campaign has garnered massive support from liberal anti-war bloggers. But the challenger takes issue with the suggestion that he is a single-issue candidate or that he has used the war to score cheap political points.

“Don’t tell me Iraq is just a single issue,” Mr. Lamont told ABC yesterday. “Tell that to the Silver Star and Gold Star moms whose kids have died over there, whose kids are serving over there. Don’t tell them it’s a single issue.”

The latest poll conducted by Quinnipiac University shows that Mr. Lamont holds a 54 percent to 41 percent lead over Mr. Lieberman among likely Democratic primary voters. Six months ago, Mr. Lieberman had 68 percent to Mr. Lamont’s 13 percent.

Mr. Lamont’s ascendance has become a call to arms for liberals nationwide, earning an endorsement from the New York Times.

“It’s critical that the minority party serve as a responsible but vigorous watchdog,” the newspaper said. “This is no time for a man with Mr. Lieberman’s ability to command Republicans’ attention to become their enabler and embrace a role as the president’s defender.”

Every major newspaper in Connecticut, however, has endorsed Mr. Lieberman, largely a nod to his bipartisanship and 18 years of Senate experience.

Mr. Lamont ridiculed Mr. Lieberman’s record.

“I think he’s got 18 years of experience, but he’s using it on the wrong side of the big issues of the day,” the challenger told ABC yesterday. “Eighteen years of experience and we’ve got our troops stuck in the middle of a bloody civil war.”

Last night, Mr. Lieberman was making no apologies for his war stance.

“If we simply give up and pull out now, like my opponent wants to do, then it would be a disaster to Iraq and to us,” he said. “We would run a high risk of allowing Iraq to become like Afghanistan when the Taliban were in charge, and al Qaeda had safe haven from which to strike us.”


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