Lamont Surprised by Tone of Attacks
Monday, August 14, 2006; 9:30 PM
WASHINGTON -- The thwarted terrorist airline plot in Britain is sparking a bitter new round of finger-pointing in Connecticut's bruising Senate race.
Democratic nominee Ned Lamont, the anti-war candidate who toppled Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary last week, said he was surprised by Lieberman's and Vice President Dick Cheney's claims that his views on Iraq could embolden terrorists.
"My God, here we have a terrorist threat against hearth and home, and the very first thing that comes out of their mind is how can we turn this to partisan advantage. I find that offensive," Lamont said in an interview Sunday with The Associated Press.
After British officials disclosed Thursday that they had stopped a terrorist airline bombing plot, Lieberman warned that Lamont's call for a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq would be "taken as a tremendous victory" by terrorists.
Cheney suggested Wednesday that Lamont's victory might encourage "the al-Qaida types" who want to "break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task."
Lamont said Lieberman's swipe at his candidacy "sounded an awful lot" like Cheney.
"It surprised me," he said. "It seemed almost orchestrated. It's sort of demeaning to the people of Connecticut. ... I thought the senator and the vice president were both wrong to use that attack (strategy) on the voters of Connecticut."
The Lieberman camp Sunday brushed aside Lamont's comments.
"All Lieberman did was point out an important difference between his approach to national security and Ned Lamont's, which is what campaigns are all about," said Lieberman spokesman Dan Gerstein.
Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride said Lamont was the one seeking to score political points with terrorism.
"Sounds like he's the one playing politics at a time the president is trying to build national unity and cooperation in fighting a determined and murderous enemy," McBride said.
Lamont's upset victory last week, fueled in part by liberal bloggers, was viewed by many as a referendum on Iraq and President Bush's handling of the war. The debate has put his candidacy in the national spotlight.