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Lieberman Gains Ground In New Poll

Sen. Joe Lieberman, fighting for his political survival, appears to be cutting into challenger Ned Lamont's lead the day before Connecticut's Democratic primary election, according to a new poll.

The Quinnipiac University survey shows Lamont, a wealthy Greenwich businessman, leading Lieberman 51 percent to 45 percent among likely Democratic voters heading into Tuesday's primary.

Last week's Quinnipiac poll showed Lamont leading 54 percent to 41 percent. Only 4 percent of respondents said they were undecided and 90 percent of voters who name a candidate say their mind is made up.

Lieberman has been badly hurt with liberal Connecticut by his strong support for U.S. intervention in Iraq and what these voters see as his coziness with President Bush.

In the final days of the campaign, Lieberman has sought to distance himself from Mr. Bush, saying he opposed the White House's domestic agenda and its handling of the Iraq war.

"I am the only Democrat in America to run against George Bush in a national election twice," Lieberman told supporters at a rally Sunday. "You know why I ran for president in 2004? Because I believe that his agenda was wrong for our country and our future. And that's the truth."

Challenger Ned Lamont, a political newcomer and founder of a cable company, has capitalized on the war's unpopularity in Connecticut by accusing Lieberman of being too close to Republicans and Mr. Bush.

The primary is Tuesday and Lieberman has said he intends to run as an independent if he loses. In Connecticut, more than 942,000, or 45 percent, of the state's approximately 2.1 million voters are unaffiliated. More than 702,000 are Democrats and more than 456,000 Republicans.

Lamont ran into an enthusiastic following Sunday while campaigning at firefighter's carnival in Orange. He drew a crowd as he made his way through the snow cone and cotton candy booths.

Sonja Duarte, 40, of East Haven, said Lamont has her vote. "It's time for someone new," Duarte said. "Lieberman is more Republican than Democrat right now."

Lieberman, at his campaign rally, said he has opposed nearly major domestic issue Mr. Bush has backed, including a ban on stem cell research and a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Lieberman laid out his stance on Iraq, saying he did support the resolution giving the president authority to take out Saddam Hussein, as did many Senate Democrats.

"I still believe that was right. What I don't think is right, as I have said over and over again, are many of the Bush administration decisions regarding the conduct of the war," he said.

He criticized the president for not having a plan to win the peace and for a shortage of troops and allies.

"Don't think for a minute I do not grieve for every casualty of this war," Lieberman said. "In fact, as someone who voted for the war, I feel a heavy responsibility to try to end it as quickly and successfully as possible."

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