WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - A single towering issue — Iraq — powered Ned Lamont in his dramatic primary victory over Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman. Now Lamont is letting voters know he's got more to talk about than that, because Iraq alone isn't doing it for him in the fall campaign.
Lamont is ticking off plans for expanded health care, universal preschool education and curbs in the influence of lobbyists. He's decrying U.S. addiction to foreign oil. To be sure, Iraq is no more settled than when he tapped the anger of so many Democrats over the war's course, securing the Democratic place on the ticket from an 18-year veteran who almost became vice president.
But Lamont's post-primary glow has faded and he trails Lieberman, who is running as an independent in a state with a vast pool of independent, if Democratic-leaning, voters.
Lesson: Running on opposition to the Iraq War will not win you the vote, even in the bluest of states. Americans know we must win the War on Terror and that is why Lamont is losing, and that is why the Republicans will continue to win.
The Republican Party will begin airing a hard-hitting ad this weekend that warns of more cataclysmic terror attacks against the U.S. homeland. The ad portrays Osama bin Laden and quotes his threats against America dating to February 1998. "These are the stakes," the ad concludes. "Vote November 7." Brian Jones, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said the ad would run on national cable beginning Sunday, but he declined to discuss specifics of the buy. The commercial tracks with Republican Party strategy to make the war on terrorism a central theme of this election.
By holding their breath, for starters. With party strategists increasingly afraid the Senate is slipping away, Republican officials are moving money around in high-stakes triage. Republican officials are trying to project confidence about keeping the Senate by spending heavily, and forcing Democrats to do the same, in blue states like Michigan, Maryland and New Jersey.
What I believe is happening here is the Republican Party is taking a carrot and stick approach to motivating the electorate, by holding their record on the GWOT out in front with the TV ads, and using the possibility of a Democrat-controlled Senate as a way to drive home the point that everyone has to get out and vote or our chances in the war will be imperiled.
Because the Democratic Party has so narrowly focused its energies on opposition to the war, the Republican Party knows that, in this election, the more people vote, the more Repubs will win.