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Lieberman’s lament:Lamont plays dirty

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September 12, 2006

Sen. Joe Lieberman bemoaned the nasty tone of Ned Lamont’s campaign — even as he swiped at his Democratic rival, accusing him of waffling on the Iraq war.

“Ned Lamont is running one of the most negative campaigns that I can remember,” Lieberman said in a telephone conference call with reporters Tuesday. “He constantly criticizes, criticizes, criticizes. And he blames me for just about everything, maybe except the weather.”

Lieberman, who is running as an independent after losing last month’s Democratic primary to Lamont, was responding to his foe’s complaint that he has missed 16 votes on Iraq since 2003.

“Senator Lieberman, how can you hold the president accountable for his foreign policy when you’re not there for the votes that count?” Lamont asked at a Connecticut event.

Lieberman, insisting he has a nearly 95 percent voting record, complained the attack was to divert attention from recent Lamont “inconsistencies and hypocrisies” on Iraq and the 1998 sex scandal involving President Clinton and a White House intern.

“It’s really a shame the senator thinks a full and honest discussion of his own record is negative campaigning,” said Lamont spokeswoman Liz Dupont-Diehl.

Lieberman accused Lamont of flip-flopping on Iraq: “Three different positions, in three different places on three different days. That’s quite a feat.”

Dupont-Diehl denied the charge, saying Lamont wants to begin withdrawing front-line U.S. troops in Iraq while keeping American forces in the region to provide support.

Last week, Lamont rapped Lieberman for publicly scolding Clinton over the sex scandal. Lieberman’s Senate office then released a 1998 e-mail from Lamont saying he “reluctantly supported” Lieberman’s rebuke of Clinton.

“And so, one might say that he praised me before he criticized me,” Lieberman said. “I couldn’t resist that one.”

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Republican Vernon Robinson, who describes himself as a black Jesse Helms, is mimicking the former North Carolina senator’s most infamous ad in his first foray into television.

In his 1990 victory against former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt, Helms depicted a pair of white hands crumpling a job rejection letter. “You needed that job,” Helms’ ad said. “And you were the best qualified. But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota.”

Robinson, who counts the former Republican senator as a political idol, shows a pair of black hands crumpling a letter.

“You needed that job,” the ad says. “And you were the best qualified. But they gave it to an illegal alien so they could pay him under the table.”

Robinson, a long-shot candidate, invested a small amount — $30,000 — in the cable television spot that also criticizes incumbent Democratic Rep. Brad Miller’s stand on immigration.

“Brad Miller voted to give these illegal aliens driver’s licenses, Social Security benefits and many other government freebies,” says the narrator of Robinson’s 60-second ad. “He actually voted to allow convicted child molesters to immigrate to America.”

The ad refers to a vote in December, when Miller joined most of his fellow Democrats and a few Republicans to oppose a measure aimed at increasing border security. One provision of the bill would explicitly bar convicted child sex offenders from moving to the United States.

Miller’s campaign spokeswoman called the spot “another ridiculous Robinson ad,” and said Miller voted against the bill because its reforms were inadequate.

“It’s just another cry for attention,” said spokeswoman LuAnn Canipe, who added Miller is aggressively seeking immigration reforms, including additional money for the border patrol.

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Republican Sen. Rick Santorum wrote that both parents shouldn’t work outside the home if they can survive on one income. Democratic rival Bob Casey is using those words against him.

Casey launched a statewide television ad Tuesday featuring Debbie Balcik, a working mother who argues that the comment is ridiculous.

“He doesn’t understand how hard it is in order to make ends meet,” Balcik says. “I would like Rick Santorum to come to my house at the end of the month when we’re doing our bills and tell me how we can live on one income. I’m not like a U.S. senator. I can’t vote my own pay raise.”

Casey, the state treasurer, is challenging Santorum, the No. 3 Senate Republican, in one the nation’s most competitive races. Casey leads in the polls, but Santorum has a 2-to-1 cash advantage.

The ad refers to a passage in Santorum’s book, “It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good,” which was published last year.

In it, Santorum writes, “In far too many families with young children, both parents are working, when, if they really took an honest look at the budget, they might confess that both of them really don’t need to, or at least may not need to work as much as they do.”

Virginia Davis, a Santorum spokeswoman, said Casey was taking the words out of context.

The ad started running last week in the Pittsburgh market. The Casey campaign is spending $300,000 this week to run the ad and another intended to introduce Casey to voters statewide, said Larry Smar, a Casey campaign spokesman.

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Associated Press Writers Cara Rubinsky in Connecticut, Kimberly Hefling in Washington and Mike Baker in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.


Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press