Democratic Senate candidate Ned Lamont, who recently denounced Sen. Joe Lieberman for his public scolding of President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair, lauded the senator at the time for his eloquence and moral authority.

Lieberman’s staff on Saturday called Lamont’s recent criticisms hypocritical in light of a 1998 letter sent by e-mail. However, Lamont said he stands by his position that the public rebuke exacerbated the situation.

The Lieberman Senate office released copies of the letter, which Lamont sent to the senator shortly after Lieberman took to the Senate floor to chide Clinton in September 1998.

“I supported your statement because Clinton’s behavior was outrageous: a Democrat had to stand up and state as much, and I hoped that your statement was the beginning of the end,” Lamont wrote.

Lieberman’s rebuke made him the first prominent Democratic lawmaker to openly criticize Clinton’s conduct with Lewinsky, once a White House intern. The boost to Lieberman’s national profile helped him to secure the party’s nomination for vice president in 2000.

Lieberman, an 18-year incumbent, is running as an independent candidate after losing the Democratic primary in August to Lamont, a Greenwich businessman critical of Lieberman’s support of the Iraq war and perceived closeness to the Bush Administration.

Lamont criticized Lieberman earlier this week for his handling of the Clinton matter, telling reporters and editors at The New York Times that Lieberman should have discussed the matter privately with the president rather than creating “a media spectacle.”

“You go up there, you sit down with one of your oldest friends and say, ‘You’re embarrassing yourself, you’re embarrassing your presidency, you’re embarrassing your family, and it’s got to stop,'” Lamont said.

Lieberman was unavailable for comment Saturday because he was observing the Jewish sabbath. His campaign manager, Sherry Brown, said in a written statement that Lamont’s hypocrisy “knows no bounds.”

“He has run such a negative campaign up until this point that he had to reach back eight years to find something new to attack Joe Lieberman about — and in this case, he was so desperate to lash out that he didn’t seem to care that he was completely contradicting himself,” Brown said.


Associated Press writer Pat Eaton-Robb in Hebron, Conn., contributed to this report.

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