From The Morning Grind
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut) came out swinging last night against his primary challenger Ned Lamont, accusing him of running a campaign based on one issue: Iraq. In a one hour nationally televised debate, Lieberman also charged that Lamont was misrepresenting his relationship with President Bush and criticized the challenger for questioning his loyalty to the Democratic Party.
"I'm a Democrat with a 35 year record of fighting for progressive causes, for the middle class, for civil rights, for women's rights, for human rights and a lot more," Lieberman said. "I voted with my Senate Democratic colleagues 90 percent of the time. And when I have disagreed, I have had the courage of my convictions to say so. That's who I am. That's who I have been. And that's what I offer Connecticut voters for the next six years -- experience, principles and results."
For his part, Lamont did not shy away from the Bush-Lieberman comparison.
"Senator Lieberman, if you won't challenge President Bush on his failed agenda, I will," Lamont said. (Read down for full local and national coverage of the debate)
Lieberman's support for the Iraq war has fueled Lamont's campaign to win the Democratic nomination. Lieberman has acknowledged that he might lose the Aug. 8 primary. If this happens, Lieberman said he will remain a Democrat, but pursue an independent bid to win re-election. Several of his colleagues have already said they would not support him or will not commit to supporting him, if he lost the primary. The latest non-committer is Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana), CNN's Sasha Johnson reports.
At an event in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday, Bayh unequivocally said he would go to Connecticut to campaign for Lieberman prior to the primary if asked to do so. But when pressed about whether he would support Lieberman if he lost the primary, Bayh sidestepped the question by calling it "hypothetical." He added, "I think he is going to win the primary."
Bush would not weigh in on Lieberman's primary fight during an exclusive interview Thursday with CNN's Larry King.
"The Democrats have to sort out who their nominee is going to be and that's going to be up to the Democrats," Bush said.
When King tried to prod the President to elaborate on his answer by noting that he likes the Connecticut Democrat, Bush refused to take the bait.
"You're trying to get me to give him a political kiss, which may be his death," Bush said.
(To get an insider's perspective on the Lieberman/Lamont race, tune into CNN's Reliable Sources on Sunday at 10 a.m. ET. Hartford Courant Washington Bureau Chief David Lightman will be Howard Kurtz's guest).
Full transcript of the debate via The Washington Post
What Connecticut voters are reading this morning:The Hartford CourantConnecticut PostGreenwich TimeAP/New Haven RegisterRepublican-AmericanRecord-JournalThe New York Times
What bloggers are saying about the debate:Dailykos