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Arizona newspaper endorses Lieberman

The Arizona Republic said a vote for Lieberman would be
The Arizona Republic said a vote for Lieberman would be "a fresh message, not an echo."

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(CNN) -- While acknowledging he faces an uphill fight to win the Democratic presidential nomination, the Arizona Republic newspaper Thursday endorsed Sen. Joe Lieberman, giving the beleaguered candidate's campaign a boost ahead of next week's primary.

Challenging Arizona residents to "Be bold," the editorial said, "A vote for Joe Lieberman would be a fresh message, not an echo."

The endorsement is likely to provide a lift to the foundering campaign of the former vice-presidential candidate. Lieberman finished seventh in the Iowa caucuses and fifth in the New Hampshire primary.

"The Connecticut senator is the one candidate who embodies the ideals and issues central to the successful Arizona Democrats this newspaper has strongly supported over the years" -- a list that includes Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and former governor and former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

"We understand that Lieberman faces an uphill fight for the nomination, that the political momentum now belongs to Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts. And that momentum could propel Kerry to a victory here on Tuesday," the Republic acknowledged.

Kerry roared from behind to win in Iowa and rode the momentum to victory in New Hampshire.

Next Tuesday, primaries will be held in Missouri, Arizona, Delaware, Oklahoma and South Carolina, along with caucuses in New Mexico and North Dakota. A total of 269 delegates are up for grabs.

"The whole point of moving up Arizona's presidential primary by a couple of months was to give Democrats here a greater voice in nominating their presidential candidate," the editorial said.

"It would seem pointless, then, for those who go to the polls next week to use that opportunity merely to rubber-stamp what Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire have already decided."

In backing Lieberman, the Republic cited him as the only Democratic candidate who "steadfastly supports" the war in Iraq and as a fiscal moderate who would not roll back middle-class tax cuts pushed through by the Bush administration.

"Arizona ought to be the state that rewards Lieberman's kind of political courage, to stand up for what he believes in and not always tack to the left with the prevailing winds."

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