Lieberman vs. Lamont: Liveblogging The Debate (Video Added)
*Updated Below The Fold
7:02: Rules of engagement.
7:04: Lieberman: I’m running on my 18 years of service to Connecticut and Lamont is running against me based on one issue: Iraq. I’ve worked against George Bush, I’ve ran against George Bush, and I’m not George Bush. I’ve voted with Democrats 90% of the time and not been afraid to disagree.
7:05: Lamont: I’m not a traditional politician.
7:06: Q to Lieberman: The reason we’re here tonight is because of the war. How can you ask Democrats to overlook or look past the central issue of the race?
7:07: Lieberman: It was right to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Now we have a choice, help the Iraqis or leave and let them fail. Lamont has not been consistent in his position.
7:08: Lamont: Senator, you’re the only person in CT confused about what my position is in regard to Iraq. I’m impressed by Murtha’s stance.
7:09: Lieberman: Outlines Lamont’s various positions on Iraq.
7:10: Lieberman: I had this same position when Bill Clinton was in Bosnia. You can not set a deadline and must wait until the job is done.
7:11: Lamont: Lieberman keeps saying we’re going to turn the corner. Well, “that corner is a square.”
7:12: Lieberman: The situation in Iraq is better than it was 3 years ago. They held elections and are working to build their military. Not for an open-ended policy, but we need support them. Confident that the situation on the ground will allow us to begin a significant draw down within the next year.
7:14: Hamdan is raised. Lieberman calls it an “excellent decision” and a “right decision” that will now force President Bush to act with the approval of Congress. Lamont says that we now have a president that acts above the law and this weakens the country. NSA wiretaps is another example of this and censure was an appropriate response.
7:16: Q to Lamont: Would you support a policy of President Bush if you agreed with it regardless of the political consequences? Lamont: Yes, more than happy to find common ground but Lieberman finds too much common ground with President Bush. Lieberman: “The fact is that Washington has become rigidly and reflexively partisan” and I reach across party lines and that helps me do my job for CT.
7:19: Q on North Korea. Lieberman: Bush admin has had an inconsistent and ultimately unsuccessful policy towards NK. Lieberman advocates direct talks with Kim Jong Il, not now, but eventually. Lamont: The biggest threat to the U.S. is a rogue nation with nuclear weapons and that’s NK. I wouldn’t do what Bush did with Iraq. (Ya think?) Lamont would hold meetings with Democrats and Republicans and give them intelligence. Not kidding.
7:21: Lamont: Lamont campaign has grassroots support. Democrats need to go to DC and talk about the common good.
7:22: Q to Lieberman: What does it mean to you to be a Democrat? Quotes JFK and notes that it’s America’s mission to “pay any price”, yada yada yada…to insure the spread of liberty. Lieberman says that Ned Lamont is a single-issue candidate and when 100% of Democrats vote the same way the 100% of the time, it’s bad for Democrats.
7:24: Lamont: Lieberman undermines the Democrats.
7:24: Lieberman: Lamont is spending a lot of his money to distort my record. I never supported a social security privatization plan.
7:26: Lieberman: I’m the real Democrat in this race.
7:27: Lamont: Play by the rules. “You can’t have it both ways.” Either run as a Democrat or run as an Independent.
7:28: Lamont: “Either I’m far left or cozy with the Republicans.” In terms of ads, Lieberman needs to make up his mind.
7:31: Lieberman: Lamont is very inconsistent, he’s trying to gain the favor of every interest group, and he’s donated money to Lieberman’s own campaigns 3 times.
7:32: Lieberman: “The point is, who is he?” This campaign is about the future. I’ve delivered for the state. I’m not just about one issue.
7:34: Lamont: I’ve been blessed in this country and now what I want to do is give back to the state of CT.
7:35: Lieberman: I’ve got the support of the AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood, the Urban Conservation League, and Human Rights League. They wouldn’t support me if they didn’t think I stood for what they do.
7:36: One minute break, then questions from voters.
7:37: Q about gas prices, energy needs, and high costs. Lamont: After 9/11, the government should have done more to break our addiction to Middle Eastern oil. Dick Cheney had his secret meetings (and we all know the rest). Now is the time to deal with conservation in a serious way and Lieberman’s support of Cheney’s energy bill was bad, very bad. Lieberman: Yes, there were bad things about the bill but there is rarely a perfect bill. But there were good things in the bill as well. Lamont: There wasn’t one other…Lieberman interrupts Lamont and Lamont quips, “This isn’t FOX News, sir!”
7:41: Q about CT jobs and outsourcing. Lieberman: I’ve built up some seniority and that helps me deliver jobs to CT. One quarter of CT jobs are exporting jobs. I’ve have helped keep those jobs and trade bills, which Lamont use to support but doesn’t now, help those employers. Lamont: Education and infrastructure, freights, ports, etc.
7:44: Q on immigration. Lamont: As long as you have employers hiring illegals, border security won’t work. Need comprehensive immigration form and supports the Senate bill. Refutes the “jobs Americans won’t do” slogan; if employers pay enough, they will. Lieberman: Need to work hard, play by the rules, learn English, blah, blah, blah…Lamont: Got to find a way to give kids legal status who aren’t legal.
7:47: Each candidate gets to ask the other a question. Lieberman asks Lamont if he will release his state and federal income tax returns? Lamont says he has released all documents, then opines about ethics in DC. Lieberman boasts about the earmarks he brought to CT. Lamont says that the process of earmarking should end. Lieberman gleefully adds that earmarks help the people of CT. Lamont’s turn: Do you still think you deliver for CT? Lieberman: Sure do. Will Ned Lamont be able to do all the things that I have done for CT? I don’t think so. The people of CT know me, I listen to them, and they know that I care about them.
7:52: Closing Statements. Lieberman highlights the differences between himself and Lamont. Basically, experience, record, and performance vs. inexperience, no record, and who knows what he will be able to do. Lamont: This election is about the people, not about someones career. Ends with the soon-to-be-not-so-classic, “My name’s Ned Lamont and if you approve of this message, I could use your support.”
UPDATE: Without much reflection, it’s easy to call this debate for Lieberman. Despite his sometimes overzealous aggressiveness, I think anyone listening carefully would agree that Lieberman defeated Lamont handily with those silly little things called facts with which Lamont was curiously light. As far as I could tell, Lamont promised to be the progressive Santa to liberals but didn’t bother mentioning how he planned to accomplish any of his goals. And this played particularly well into Lieberman’s strategy of painting Lamont as a one-issue candidate which, of course, is arguably true. Allah Pundit notes that some are saying that Lieberman used “Republican debate tactics” but I would counter that sometimes being inconsistent really does mean one is a flip-flopper.
UPDATE: Closing statements:
UPDATE: Allah has more video of the debate at Hot Air but warns, “If you want clips of the Freshmaker, go see Crooks & Liars. This is Joementum country, baby.”
UPDATE: Stephen Sprueill has some behind-the-scenes reporting and agrees: Lamont lost.