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Lieberman lashes left-wing Democrats

Kucinich: Party must offer voters 'real choice' to Bush

Sen. Joe Lieberman

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Interactive: The Democratic field 

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Joe Lieberman attacked the left wing of his party Sunday, saying Democrats "don't deserve to run the country" if they move left and embrace "the failed solutions of the past."

"If we're for middle-class tax increases, if we send a message of weakness and ambivalence on defense, if we go back to big government spending, if we're against trade [and] for protectionism -- which never created a job -- we don't deserve to run the country," Lieberman, a presidential candidate, said on "Fox News Sunday."

"We're not going to be able to meet the challenges that America faces today."

Last week, the Connecticut senator and 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee raised eyebrows when he said antiwar, anti-Bush candidates on the left of the party's 2004 presidential field -- particularly former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean -- would lead the party into the "political wilderness."

During the past week, Dean has enjoyed a surge of media attention and gains in polls, both nationally and in key early primary states.

Lieberman said on Fox News that Dean has tapped into anger among Democrats toward President Bush.

"I share the anger, but, ultimately, to govern this country, it takes more than anger," he said. "It takes experience. It takes positions that reflect the best values of the American people. And it takes the kind of solid leadership capacity that America will need in an age of terrorism and in an age of real economic anxiety."

Lieberman said Dean's call for a repeal of all of Bush's tax cuts "would mean an increase in taxes on everybody, including the middle class and working families, who don't deserve it now.

"I think some of the ideas that he is reflecting are out of tune with what America needs today," he said.

Dean did not appear on any of the Sunday talk shows and had no scheduled public appearances this weekend during which he might have responded.

Offering a contrasting view, however, was Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, one of the antiwar candidates on the party's left.

He said Democrats must offer a "real choice" to the Bush administration if they want to motivate voters.

"As I define the differences, it will be very clear to the American people that I'm offering a true alternative, a progressive alternative," he said on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

Kucinich also mentioned Dean.

"I think that as my campaign begins to develop, we're going to be able to attract some of the people who now currently feel that Howard Dean is the only alternative."

Kucinich said he would cancel the NAFTA and World Trade Organization trade agreements, move the country to a universal health care system, cut the Pentagon budget by 15 percent and create a federal Department of Peace.

He likened the proposed department to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s call to make nonviolence an organizing principle in American society. He said it would "create programs where we teach our children peace-giving and peace-sharing and mutuality and identifying the other person as oneself, where we learn that violence isn't inevitable."

Kucinich was one of the most outspoken opponents of the Iraq war. Asked whether he thought the end -- getting rid of Saddam Hussein -- justified the means used, he said, "Is it worth 259 American lives? No.

"We have to recognize that this administration took this country to war saying that there was an imminent threat and that Iraq had nuclear capability. That has proven to be a lie."

Lieberman, who supported the decision to go to war, said he still believes "very strongly" that "initiating a war to get rid of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do, that the world is safer, America is safer. Certainly the Iraqi people have a better future to look forward to with Saddam gone."

However, he said he believes Bush administration officials made arguments leading up to the conflict that "went beyond what was necessary to make the case for a just war.

"I think they overstated the case in a series of arguments, which were not necessary because the case was so strong," he said. "That's why I've said that the administration's actions have threatened to give a bad name to what was a just war."

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