Democrats Say Lieberman Too Close to Bush

The Associated Press
Monday, April 24, 2006; 4:10 AM

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. -- Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman, who once occupied the lofty No. 2 spot on his party's presidential ticket, is too Republican for some Democrats.

The three-term lawmaker, a strong advocate of the Iraq War, proponent of some GOP policies and recipient of a kiss from President Bush, has frustrated several national Democrats and angered enough in his home state to draw a primary challenger.

"I think it's a challenge for Lieberman to reconnect to the rank-and-file of the party and prove he is an authentic Democrat," said John McNamara, chairman of the New Britain Democratic Town Committee.

Bumper stickers spotted in Connecticut read, "Anybody but Joe _ I want a real Democrat in '06." Campaign buttons show Bush and Lieberman in an embrace, with the words, "The Kiss: Too Close for Comfort."

In February 2005, after Bush's State of the Union speech, the president hugged Lieberman and planted a kiss on his right cheek.

Call it the buss that launched a challenge.

Ned Lamont, a wealthy Greenwich businessman, is trying to snatch the Democratic nomination from Lieberman, arguing that the 64-year-old senator is "Republican-lite."

"One thing I hear wherever I go, to all audiences, is, 'Come on Democrats, be a constructive alternative, speak loudly and proudly for what you believe, no more mumbling.'" Lamont said.

While Lamont's arguments have struck a chord with many Democrats, Lieberman holds a considerable advantage in money, name recognition and party backing. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama recently traveled to Connecticut to offer a vocal defense of his colleague.

On Thursday, Lieberman launched his first television ads in a decade, addressing the war debate head on.

"I already know that some of you feel passionately against my position in Iraq. I respect your views, and while we probably won't change each others' minds, I hope we can still have a dialogue and find common ground on all the issues where we do agree," Lieberman says in the ad.

Still, the Democratic discontent remains loud.

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