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Lieberman: 'It's not a time for rookies'

Sen. Joseph Lieberman during an appearance Friday in Michigan.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman during an appearance Friday in Michigan.

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• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry
Howard Dean
Joe Lieberman

(CNN) -- Sen. Joseph Lieberman, in an interview broadcast Sunday, questioned whether two of his chief rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination -- retired Gen. Wesley Clark and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean -- are ready to be president, saying, "it's not a time for rookies."

"These are very serious times; we're facing challenges today at home and in the world the likes of which we have not faced together in a long, long time," Lieberman, D-Connecticut, told ABC's "This Week." "It's a time for change from George Bush, but it's not a time for rookies."

Asked who the "rookies" are, he replied, "Well, Howard Dean has been a governor, Wes Clark is new to politics -- so that's two."

Dean, the former governor of Vermont, and Clark, a former NATO supreme commander, both lead Lieberman in several recent polls.

Numerous presidents, including both Bush and Bill Clinton, have made the jump from governor to president.

But Lieberman said, "I think the American people will look for somebody in this election, more than any other election, who has had some experience in the world."

He then touted his record on the Senate Armed Services Committee and the amount of time he has spent traveling and meeting with world leaders.

Asked about an ABC/Washington Post poll last week that showed him in fifth place, Lieberman responded, "Polls come and go. ... There's no question that it is an undecided race. I feel best about the fact that I have laid out a unique program of new ideas that would really give America a fresh start."

He also said the last three decades showed that centrist Democrats, rather than more liberal candidates, ultimately will win the Democratic primary.

"People are angry about what George Bush has done to America," said Lieberman, who served as Al Gore's running mate in the 2000 presidential race. "You'd have to go a long way to find two people angrier than Al Gore and me."

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