Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Lieberman's Clinton problem


Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut)

From The Morning Grind

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (New York) is the latest Democrat to express support for Sen. Joe Lieberman's (Connecticut) re-election bid, but noted she would not back her colleague if he loses the Democratic nomination next month.

In a statement released yesterday, Clinton noted that she has known Lieberman for three decades and "hope that he is our party's nominee."

She added, "But I want to be clear that I will support the nominee chosen by Connecticut Democrats in their primary. I believe in the Democratic Party; and I believe we must honor the decisions made by Democratic primary voters. The challenges before us in 2006 call for a strong, united party, in which we all support and work for the candidates who are selected in the Democratic process."

Clinton's statement comes one day after Lieberman announced he would run an independent campaign if his primary challenger Ned Lamont wins the party nomination on Aug 8. To do so, Lieberman must collect 7,500 signatures. Lamont, a wealthy businessman, has criticized Lieberman for his support of the Iraq War and has energized anti-war Democratic activists to rally around his campaign. Lamont has been greatly helped by liberal bloggers such as Daily Kos, who oppose the war.

Lieberman told CNN's John King on Monday that he was "going to work my heart out to get the Democratic nomination," and laid out the reasons as to why he would continue to run for re-election even if he loses the primary.

"The first is I am very loyal to the Democratic Party, but I have a loyalty higher than that to my party," Lieberman said. "That is to my state and my country. And I feel so deeply that I can do a better job for my state and my country than either the Democratic or Republican opponents against me that I'm prepared, if necessary, to take my fight to November as a petitioning Democratic candidate."

Read the full transcript of the Lieberman interview.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) and former Vice President Al Gore have already said they will not get involved in the Democratic primary. Feingold, who acknowledged his positions are more in line with Lamont's, noted he would campaign for the candidate that wins the Aug. 8 nomination. Clinton, herself, has come under fire for supporting the invasion of Iraq, but while Lieberman continues to back President Bush on this issue, Clinton has been critical of him.

Both Feingold and Clinton are considering 2008 presidential bids and there is some speculation that they are trying to curry favor with the increasingly influential "netroots" activists such as Daily Kos. But Clinton's relationship with Lieberman is more complex. As the New York Democrat noted she has known Lieberman for 30 years. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, worked on Lieberman's campaign for state Senate in the early 1970's and Lieberman was an early supporter of Clinton's 1992 presidential bid. And then there was the 1998 speech at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Lieberman became the first prominent Democrat to chastise Clinton for the Lewinsky affair. Lieberman did so in Sept. 3, remarks from the Senate floor and while he did not endorse impeachment or censure, the Connecticut Democrat did call for "some measure of public rebuke and accountability" of Clinton.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 7/05/2006 11:03:00 AM ET | Permalink
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