Carter delivers a jolt for Joe

The former president says he hopes Lieberman loses in November.

Published September 14, 2006 3:07PM (EDT)

Former President Jimmy Carter told Larry King Wednesday night that he's "disappointed and surprised" that Joe Lieberman is running for reelection despite having lost the Connecticut Democratic primary to Ned Lamont.

"I'm really sorry that he's running as an independent and I'm grateful to notice that all the Democrats who are loyal to our party, loyal to our principles are not supporting him and are hoping that he will be defeated," Carter said. "I think Joe Lieberman is a good man. [But] he's been strongly in favor of the Iraqi war from its very beginning. He was one of the originators of the public statements that misled the American people into believing that the Iraqi war was justified. He's been an undeviating supporter of the war from the very beginning and still is. He's joined in with the Republican spokespersons by saying the Democrats who disagree are really supporting terrorism. So, for all these reasons, I've lost my confidence in Joe Lieberman and don't wish to see him reelected."

Lieberman spokesman Tammy Sun tells the Associated Press that Carter has got at least some of his facts wrong. "It is entirely false to suggest that Joe Lieberman in any way equated dissent about the war with supporting terrorists," she says.

It may be true that Lieberman hasn't equated dissent with support for terrorists exactly, but it's a stretch to argue that it's "entirely false to suggest" that Lieberman has "in any way" made the link. After all, it was Lieberman who said that "if we pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England. It will strengthen them and they will strike again." And it was Lieberman who warned Democrats, in a speech last December, that they put us all in danger when they challenge Bush's credibility on Iraq. "It is time," the senator said, "for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be commander-in-chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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2006 Elections Jimmy Carter Joe Lieberman War Room