Wednesday, July 5, 2006
ALBANY, N.Y., July 4 -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), a longtime supporter of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, said Tuesday that she will not back the Connecticut Democrat's bid for reelection if he loses their party's primary.
"I've known Joe Lieberman for more than 30 years. I have been pleased to support him in his campaign for reelection, and hope that he is our party's nominee," the former first lady said in a statement issued by aides.
"But I want to be clear that I will support the nominee chosen by Connecticut Democrats in their primary," Clinton added. "I believe in the Democratic Party, and I believe we must honor the decisions made by Democratic primary voters."
Facing a stronger-than-expected Democratic primary challenge from millionaire businessman Ned Lamont and sagging poll numbers because of his support of the Iraq war, Lieberman said Monday he will collect signatures to ensure a ballot spot as an independent for the November election if he loses the Aug. 8 primary.
Lieberman spokeswoman Marion Steinfels said the three-term senator is "totally focused on winning the Democratic primary."
"Senator Clinton and President Clinton have both been supporters of Senator Lieberman for many, many years. He greatly values her friendship and her support in the primary," Steinfels said. "The support is part of the reason he's working so hard, with a single-minded focus to win the Democratic primary."
Both Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said they are backing Lieberman in the primary.
"We aren't going to speculate about what happens next because that would undermine our candidate," said committee spokesman Phil Singer.