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Showdown In Connecticut

The names on the signs on Connecticut's lawns and lampposts are Ned Lamont and Joe Lieberman - the veteran Senator he hopes to beat - but the Iraq war and the Bush administration itself are the most talked about issues as the campaign for Tuesday's primary goes down to the wire.

Thirty-six years after winning his first election, Lieberman is in the fight of his life - for the Democratic party nomination. Lamont leads the polls.

Lieberman, who alienated many Connecticut Democrats because of his support of the war in Iraq, has said that even if he loses his longtime party's nomination - he will stay in the race - as an independent candidate.

Lieberman's campaign manager on Sunday said challenger Ned Lamont's ads have "taken their toll" on the campaign, but he vowed a fight in the final two days of the campaign to overcome what he called negative messages.

In a conference call with reporters, Sean Smith said the campaign has scaled back its get-out-the-vote efforts for Tuesday "a little bit" to spend more money on ads. But he said the campaign will still have an unprecedented presence on primary day, with thousands of people helping out. Supporters from across the country are coming to Connecticut, he said.

"They have taken their toll," Smith said of the ads. "And we are going to combat that in the next 48 hours with a positive message about Joe Lieberman's record."

A Quinnipiac University poll released last week showed the Greenwich businessman leading Lieberman, 54 percent to 41 percent.

"The progressive wing of the party have been good soldiers for two elections in a row. But, we lost. Now it's time to bring in authentic candidates who will change this town," Democratic pollster Celinda Lake told CBS News.

Smith said the polls are unreliable because no one knows who will vote in the unusual August primary.

"It is notoriously difficult to predict who is going to turn out in this race," he said, adding that the campaign is buoyed by a positive response Lieberman has received campaigning by bus.

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

Sonja Duarte, 40, of East Haven, was among them and said Lamont has her vote Tuesday.

"It's time. It's time for someone new," Duarte said. "I'm definitely against the war and what (President) Bush is doing. Lieberman is more Republican than Democrat right now."

Lieberman, an 18-year-veteran and his party's vice presidential candidate in 2000, has been dogged by many liberal Democrats angry at him for supporting the war in Iraq. 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 with Republicans and President Bush.

On "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Lieberman blasted Lamont as a "one trick pony."

"My opponent is essentially saying to [voters]: Use this primary to vote against George Bush. But I'm not George Bush," Lieberman told ABC News on Sunday. "I've been scapegoated, to tell you the truth, because I have not hesitated to criticize the conduct of this war."

But Lamont countered, "I think that those that got us into this mess should be held accountable," adding that the election was about much than just Iraq.

"He's got 18 years of experience, but he's using it on the wrong side of the big issues of the day," Lamont said, referring to Lieberman.

Lamont has spent about $4 million of his own money on the race, peppering TV and radio with ads. A call was left seeking comment with his campaign.

The raw divisions among Democrats that this race has exposed are nowhere more evident than in Stamford, where Lieberman was born and raised, CBS News' Tony Guida reports.

"Most people know Joe personally," Ellen Camhi, Stamford Democratic party leader, told CBS News. Camhi supports Lieberman, but tells Guida that a Lamont victory would "probably be good for the Democrats" because it would be "really a rejection of Bush and his policies at this time."

Former Democratic U.S. Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, a Vietnam veteran who lost both legs and part of an arm in the war, was scheduled to appear with Lieberman at an early evening event Sunday. Cleland appeared with U.S. Sen. John Kerry during the 2004 presidential election. Smith said Lieberman will talk about Iraq at the event.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia's nonvoting Democratic delegate to the House of Representatives, and Newark, N.J., mayor Cory Booker campaigned with Lieberman Sunday morning at traditionally black churches in Stamford and Bridgeport.

Lamont also visited two black churches. In New Haven, he was joined by Rev. Al Sharpton, who campaigned last week with Lamont.

Four Connecticut newspapers on Sunday endorsed Lieberman.

The Norwich Bulletin, The News-Times of Danbury, New Haven Register and The Day of New London questioned Lamont's newness to statewide politics, while praising the Iraq war debate that he brought to the campaign.

The editorials also balanced the issue of the war, which Lieberman supports, with his representation of Connecticut in the Senate for 18 years.

"Lieberman is a man of principle who votes his conscience," The Norwich Bulletin wrote.

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