Throughout the last several months, I have done my best to highlight what’s at stake in this race. I’ve talked about all the work I have done to protect and create jobs, to lower the cost of health care, to improve our schools, to clean up our environment, and fight for social justice. And about the clear differences between my experience and my opponent’s, and who can best deliver for Connecticut and for our future.
Sadly, my opponent has done his best to distort my record, spending at least $4 million of his own money to mislead people into thinking that I am someone I am not. Not unlike what happened to Max Cleland four years ago.
Lieberman went on to defend his work with Republicans in the Senate:
That’s something that separates me from my opponent – I don’t hate Republicans. I know that some times the best way to get things done in the Senate for my constituents is through bipartisan cooperation.
That doesn’t make me a bad Democrat. It makes me a better Senator.
Lieberman also defended an often-cited statement about undermining presidential authority:
What I will say is this: I not only respect your right to disagree or question the President, I value it. I was part of the anti-war movement in the late 1960s, so I don’t need to be lectured by Ned Lamont about the place of dissent in our democracy.
My opponent wants you to believe otherwise, to cement his distortion campaign against me. That’s why they keep repeating and misrepresenting a single comment I made in one speech, in which I said we undermine the President’s credibility at our peril.
I know that statement has been widely misconstrued, so let me address it head on. I did not suggest that the President or anyone else -- including me -- should be immune from criticism. The best proof of that is I myself have challenged the President’s policies on many occasions.
The point I was trying to make was about how we disagree. My concern was, and remains, that if opponents or supporters of the war go beyond disagreeing to exploiting the war for partisan political purposes, much like Republicans did to Max Cleland on homeland security, we could lose more than an election. We could put our mission in Iraq, the lives of thousands of American soldiers carrying it out, and our national security at risk. That is what I care about.
Lieberman's exact quote was: "It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge he'll be commander-in-chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril."
This sounds a little different from "My concern was, and remains, that if opponents or supporters of the war go beyond disagreeing to exploiting the war for partisan political purposes ... We could put our mission in Iraq, the lives of thousands of American soldiers carrying it out, and our national security at risk."
Lieberman closed by saying :
The proof is in the pudding: 35 years of fighting and delivering for you -- for your jobs, your security, your health and safety, your environment, your opportunities, your families, your rights, and your future.Lieberman is still hammering the "one issue" meme, and he's going out of his way to portray himself as the victim of merciless attacks made on his character by Lamont. After the truckloads of dirt thrown at Lamont by the Lieberman campaign, this may be difficult for voters to swallow.
That’s why every major newspaper in Connecticut, including three more today, have endorsed me in this campaign. Even though many of them disagree with my position on Iraq, they recognized that I have worked my heart out to solve problems and produce results for you, and that I am the candidate who Connecticut Democrats can count on to build a better future for our state.
So let me close by saying this. If after hearing the truth about where I stand on Iraq, you still want to cast your vote solely on that one issue, then I respect your decision. But if you care about all the other issues facing us, and want to make real progress on them, then I ask once again for your trust and your vote on Tuesday.
In fact, the speech doesn't say much that's new. The speech is a lengthy defense which repeats the core charges Lamont and his supporters make against Lieberman, but his responses probably won't change anyone's mind. Also, Lieberman talks a lot about who would be better for Connecticut's future, but he offers little in the way of plans for that future. The speech, like this entire campaign, is about what Lieberman has done in the past, not what he will do for us in the future.
That said, it's not a bad speech. He should have given it six weeks ago. But now, it may be too little, too late.