Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Lamont Uses Lieberman In Ad
Lamont Uses Lieberman In Ad
Courant Staff Writer

Ned Lamont is trying to coax the ghost of campaigns past to haunt the present campaign of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman.

In a new Lamont ad scheduled to air today, challenger Joe Lieberman of 1988 seems to be making a case to reject the 18-year incumbent Lieberman of 2006.

"After 18 years, it's time for somebody new," Lieberman says in the Lamont ad. "It's time for a change."

The video is from 1988, when Lieberman's hair was longer and darker - and he was challenging Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr., then an 18-year incumbent under fire for missed Senate votes.

The new ad is one of a series planned by the Lamont campaign using Lieberman's own words and image. The first spot contrasts clips of Lieberman criticizing Weicker in 1988 with facts about Lieberman's present-day record.

"In this campaign I promise you I will not miss more than 300 votes," Lieberman says. On screen flashes a slide that says, "The Fact: Joe Lieberman has skipped more than 418 votes."

See the ad here.

By echoing the Lieberman of 1988, the Lamont campaign is trying to blunt Lieberman's charge that Lamont's campaign is unusually negative.

It was a charge Lieberman's spokesman, Dan Gerstein, repeated Monday.

"In this case, all Ned is showing is his own desperation and hypocrisy," Gerstein said. "The fact is Joe Lieberman has a 93 percent career voting record over his 18 years in the Senate, which is the same exact percentage as Ned Lamont compiled during his six years on a Greenwich town board."

In 1988, Lieberman attacked Weicker for missing hundreds of votes, sometimes because Weicker was absent giving speeches for fees.

This year, Lamont has criticized Lieberman for missing hundreds of votes, many taken while he was running for president and vice president.

"I think this shows that Joe is a typical politician, and he will say or do anything to stay in Washington," said Tom Swan, manager of the Lamont campaign.

Lieberman is running as a petitioning candidate after losing the Democratic nomination to Lamont in a primary that focused on the war in Iraq.

Lamont, 52, is a successful cable television entrepreneur seeking statewide office for the first time. Lieberman, 64, has held state or federal office for all but two of the past 36 years.

The two main rivals have ignored three other candidates in the race: Alan Schlesinger of the Republican Party, Ralph Ferrucci of the Green Party and Timothy Knibbs of the Concerned Citizens.

Lieberman is currently airing a commercial that begins as a testimonial to his experience: A man in Groton talks about the role Lieberman played saving the submarine base in 2005.

"When Joe Lieberman helped save this sub base, he saved this whole town," the man says.

But the piece quickly transforms into an attack on Lamont, quoting another resident to reinforce a Lieberman talking point: "Lamont doesn't have the experience or the clout."

"He is trying to have his negatives be more subtle, but they're still negative and just like everything else, he tries to distort and hide his real record," Swan said.

His commercial portrays Lieberman as a savior of the sub base. The base had been slated for closure by the Pentagon, but the decision was overturned by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, also are touting in campaign ads their role in saving the base.

But Swan said the good feelings about saving the base obscure the steady erosion of jobs in the 18 years Lieberman has represented Connecticut in Washington.

"Half of our defense and 40 percent of our manufacturing jobs have been lost since he was elected U.S. senator," Swan said.