Lieberman ponders troop withdrawal plan

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the three-term Democrat whose independent campaign for re-election is being seen as a referendum on the Iraq war, said Friday he would consider taking a look at a fellow lawmaker’s proposal for a timeline for troop withdrawals.

The proposal was floated by Republican Rep. Chris Shays, another Connecticut politician facing a tough re-election battle with an anti-war candidate. Shays has long been a supporter of the war and previously opposed withdrawal timetables.

“It seems to me that Chris is saying, maybe we ought to set some goals for when we want to get out, and I’d like to see what he has in mind before I comment on it,” Lieberman said while campaigning in New Haven.

“As I’ve said to you over and over again, the sooner we get out of Iraq, the better it’s going to be for the Iraqis and us, but if we leave too soon for reasons of American politics, it’s going to be disaster for the Iraqis and for us,” he said.

Shays proposed a timeline Thursday on a telephone conference call from London with reporters following his 14th visit to Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

“We should be able to tell the American people what kind of timeline we can have to begin to draw down our troops,” he said. “It may be a timeline the American people don’t want to hear. It may not be something that brings them out quickly.”

Lieberman, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000, lost in this month’s Democratic primary to millionaire businessman Ned Lamont. He had campaigned against Lieberman’s support of the war and called the senator too close to Republicans and President Bush.

A centrist who is popular with Connecticut’s Republican and unaffiliated voters, Lieberman has filed petitions to run for re-election as an independent.

Lamont’s campaign chairman, George Jepsen, suggested Lieberman might turn against Shays for supporting a timeline for troop withdrawal.

“If he decides that Chris Shays is wrong … we’ll see what kind of rhetoric he uses and if he lumps him in with Ned,” Jepsen said.

Shays is under fire for his support of the Iraq war in his race against Democratic challenger Diane Farrell. Shays narrowly held off Farrell’s challenge in the 2004 election.

“I don’t think Chris needed to go to Iraq 14 times to know it’s a mess,” she said. “To have a timeline, there needs to be an exit plan. There’s no exit strategy.”


Associated Press writer Andrew Miga in Washington contributed to this report.

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