Democrat Ned Lamont said Wednesday the U.S. is weaker because of the war in Iraq backed by rival Sen. Joe Lieberman, and he called for shifting forces to Afghanistan and elsewhere.
“We have sacrificed our daughters and sons and our treasure in a war we didn’t have to fight,” Lamont said. “We have ignored the real threats and security needs in the war we should be fighting, the one against the terrorists. … Senator Lieberman believes that President Bush has it right in Iraq. I believe that he’s dangerously wrong.”
The Democrat, who upset the three-term Lieberman last month in Connecticut’s Democratic primary, spoke at Yale Law School — Lieberman’s alma mater. Lamont received a degree from Yale School of Management. After the defeat, Lieberman embarked on an independent bid in hopes of holding onto his seat.
Lamont’s campaign got a boost Wednesday from former President Carter, who offered a blistering critique of Lieberman’s support for the Iraq war. “He was one of the originators of public statements that misled the American people into believing that the Iraqi war was justified,” the former Democratic president said on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”
“He’s joined in with the Republican spokespersons by saying that Democrats who disagree are really supporting terrorism,” Carter said. “So for all these reasons, I’ve lost my confidence in Joe Lieberman and don’t wish to see him re-elected.”
Lamont, a multimillionaire businessman who spent about $4 million of his own money in the primary, is tapping his personal fortune once again. He has written checks totaling $1.5 million for his general election bid, his campaign confirmed Wednesday. Lamont gave his campaign $1 million on Sept. 11. He wrote a $500,000 check on Aug. 22.
Lamont’s anti-war stance propelled his candidacy and the November election is seen as a referendum on President Bush’s policies and the war. Lieberman is a staunch supporter of the war.
“Today we have five times as many troops in Iraq as we have in Afghanistan,” he said. “We spend more in a month in Iraq than we do in a year in Afghanistan. These decisions are wrong and they have left us less safe.”
Lieberman campaign spokeswoman Tammy Sun called the speech “partisan, slashing rhetoric.”
“There were no new constructive ideas and certainly nothing to assure voters that he understands the threats we face not just in Iraq, but around the world, and that he will do what’s right to keep America safe,” she said.
The two candidates continue to trade accusations over the war. Lamont recently contended Lieberman has missed 31 of 61 votes on Iraq since the invasion in 2003. Lieberman says he has a nearly 95 percent voting record.
“It is the job of Congress to provide the necessary checks and balances, to work with the president when he’s right, but to hold him to account when he’s wrong,” Lamont said. “President Bush rushed us into this war based on trumped-up intelligence, and Senator Lieberman cheered him on every step of the way. President Bush failed in the execution of this war, and Senator Lieberman failed to hold him to account.”
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