— From NBC's Mark Murray
Meeting with about 30 Washington political reporters earlier this morning, antiwar Democratic Senate nominee Ned Lamont of Connecticut said he believes his general-election race against pro-war incumbent Joe Lieberman (I) will be a referendum on Iraq. If Lieberman wins in November, Lamont argued, that will be a sign that voters in even the bluest of states want to stay the course in Iraq. But if he wins, that will mean there are "going to be a lot of other people around the country wanting to change course." Lamont also said he opposes impeaching President Bush (although he believes in holding Bush accountable) and opposes cutting off funding for the troops in Iraq (even though he supports their withdrawal).
In addition, when asked if he would support Lieberman for Defense Secretary -- if Lieberman loses in November and if Bush nominates him to replace Donald Rumsfeld -- Lamont first tried to duck the question, saying he doesn't answer hypotheticals. But when pressed, he said he wouldn't vote for Lieberman. "He has been so wrong on one of the biggest issues of the day."
Lamont was also asked whether Lieberman's independent candidacy hurts the three Democratic challengers running in competitive House races Connecticut. He replied that it could be "tough," because their GOP opponents have all endorsed Lieberman. "But we're going to win and they're going to win... We have energized a whole group of people, and I don't think they're just Democrats." And asked about trailing in the polls to Lieberman -- and a new Lieberman campaign poll has the incumbent leading Lamont, 51%-35% -- Lamont said he trailed Lieberman back in the spring and early summer. His strategy, he said, is to "do what I've been doing."