Kerry Calls Lieberman the New Cheney

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Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., blasted a fellow Democrat, Sen. Joe Lieberman, for continuing his bid in the Connecticut Senate race despite a narrow loss to newcomer Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary earlier this month.

"I'm concerned that [Lieberman] is making a Republican case," Kerry told ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" in an exclusive appearance.

Kerry accused the 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate of "adopting the rhetoric of Dick Cheney," on the issue of Iraq.

"Joe Lieberman is out of step with the people of Connecticut," Kerry added, insisting Lieberman's stance on Iraq, "shows you just why he got in trouble with the Democrats there."

Kerry called Lieberman's independent bid a "huge mistake" and applauded businessman-turned-politician Lamont as "courageous" for challenging Lieberman on the war.

Of his own views on Iraq, Kerry stated forthrightly, "The course of this country in Iraq is making the world more dangerous."

Kerry, the Democrat's nominee for president in 2004, supported the 2003 Senate resolution that ultimately led to the invasion of Iraq, and was criticized throughout his White House bid for then opposing a measure funding continuing operations in that effort. The Bush campaign seized on what they described as Kerry's wavering views on Iraq, which in part led to the senator's 2004 election defeat.

Since 2004, Kerry has steadily sharpened his opposition to the Iraq war, calling for a steady withdrawal of U.S. troops beginning last year.

Kerry told chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos, "Iraq is not the center of the war on terror," while also asserting, "Iraq is in a civil war; of course it's in a civil war."

Kerry said he supports the efforts of Senator John Warner, R-Va., to introduce a second resolution on Iraq if and when the country descends into outright civil war. Kerry believes that moment has come and reiterated, "We have to set a date for the withdrawal," before concluding, "The absence of diplomacy is putting our troops at greater risk and is reducing our ability for success."

On the uncertain ceasefire involving Israel, Lebanon and Hezbollah, Kerry said the near-month-long violence "set back" Hezbollah, but did so "at a greater cost to Israel."

Kerry also criticized President Bush's approach to the troubled region.

"I know that I would have handled the diplomacy," he said.

Kerry connected the hostilities between Israel and Lebanon to Iraq, once again proclaiming, "I believe the president's policy in Iraq is a disaster of catastrophic proportions." He said his more diplomatic approach to Iraq might have prevented the instability the region currently faces.

Regarding the 2008 presidential content, Kerry remained uncommitted, but dismissed early polls that seem to frame Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., as a leading contender.

"George, you're talking to somebody who was once 30 points down," Kerry said. "My decision [to run] … will not be based on any poll. It will be based on my vision for the direction of the country."

George Stephanopoulos' entire interview with Kerry can be viewed at "This Week's" Web page at www.abcnews.com.

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