Lieberman makes first campaign stop, seizes on terror arrests to criticize opponent |

Lieberman makes first campaign stop, seizes on terror arrests to criticize opponent

WATERBURY, Conn. – Sen. Joe Lieberman set out on his go-it-alone re-election campaign Thursday and seized on the terror arrests in Britain to argue that his Democratic opponent, Ned Lamont, does not fully understand the danger facing the nation.Lieberman’s stop in Waterbury was his first public event since losing Tuesday’s Democratic primary, dismissing his campaign staff and launching his independent bid.He seized on the terror plot in Britain to criticize Lamont’s opposition to the war in Iraq.”I’m worried that too many people, both in politics and out, don’t appreciate the seriousness of the threat to American security and the evil of the enemy that faces us – more evil or as evil as Nazism and probably more dangerous than the Soviet communists we fought during the long Cold War,” Lieberman said.”If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England. It will strengthen them and they will strike again.”British authorities on Thursday arrested 21 people and said they thwarted a terrorist plot to simultaneously blow up several aircraft heading to the U.S. using explosives smuggled in hand luggage.”We are at war with a brutal enemy,” Lieberman said while visiting a pizza parlor. “How the heck can we be in a battle in which we are fighting as Democrats and Republicans against each other when these terrorists certainly don’t distinguish based on party affiliation? They want to kill any and all of us.”Lieberman lost by 10,000 votes in Connecticut’s Democratic primary to Lamont, a millionaire businessman who ran on an anti-war platform and accused the incumbent of being too close to President Bush. Top state and national Democrats support Lamont in the November general election.In a statement, Lamont said that U.S. national security and the nation’s ability to fight terrorism have suffered because of the Iraq war.”Our force readiness to face another threat elsewhere in the world has been diminished because of our preoccupation with Iraq. Both anger at America around the world and the number of terrorists seeking to do us harm have increased,” Lamont said. “We are not stronger and safer because of Iraq; just the opposite is unfortunately true.”Lamont said the U.S. needs to focus on catching Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders and building “a credible, effective foreign policy with our allies.”Lieberman said his defeat in the primary offered him the freedom to be more independent. “I will remain a Democrat,” he said. But in some ways the loss “now gives me the opportunity to be what I always have been – an independent Democrat.”Also Thursday, Lieberman picked up an endorsement from Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, the first Senate Democrat to support him since the primary. “The Democratic Party needs moderate voices,” Pryor said. “I’m for Joe Lieberman whether he’s a Democrat or an independent.”Lieberman has also received support from some Republicans. President Bush’s top adviser, Karl Rove, told reporters Thursday that he called Lieberman on primary night and wished him well.”He’s a personal friend,” Rove said while traveling with the president in Wisconsin. “It was a personal call.”Lieberman spoke Thursday in a city that gave him 60 percent of its Democratic vote in the primary. Waterbury, a gritty factory town, also has a history of electing independents: Its mayor was re-elected as a write-in candidate last year after he lost the Democratic primary.”I think in a primary, you are dealing with a very limited audience,” Mayor Michael Jarjura said Thursday.”Unfortunately, here in Connecticut, the Democratic Party has shifted, I think wrongly, too far to the left and that limited audience does not reflect the majority view of the people of the state of Connecticut,” he said.Connecticut voters have embraced other independent candidates. Former Gov. Lowell Weicker, a former Republican who lost his Senate seat to Lieberman in 1988, ran for governor as an independent in 1990 and won.

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