Stephen Colbert interviewed Ned Lamont tonight about the upcoming Connecticut primary.
Some rough transcript quotes from Ned:
"He (Lieberman) enables this President. The President has taken this country way off course."
"It's our obligation to stand up as citizens."
Ned did an outstanding job at handling the tough interviews Stephen Colbert gives. He was quick with the responses and presented his platform very well.
(Transcript below the fold)
Stephen: Welcome back. My guest tonight is Democratic Connecticut senate hopeful who says Joe Lieberman is in bed with the president. I say they are a ménage a trois with America. Please welcome Ned Lamont. Give it up, give it up. Come on! Come on! Mr. Lamont, thanks for coming on. Brave man.
Ned: Delighted to be here.
Stephen: We invited Senator Lieberman, he declined. You got that on him. All right. Have you come on to announce that you are dropping out? You're only up by four points in the polls.
Ned: I have come to announce we are going on strong. We need your help every stop of the way between now and August 8th.
Stephen: I'm not sure I can give you my help. You just got the endorsement of "the New York Times". You know that they are destroying America. You know that newspaper is destroying America, correct?
Ned: It was a well written, articulate analysis of the issues and I think they came to the proper conclusion.
Ned: What do you think?
Ned: I don't know, I just met you sir, let's find out.
Stephen: What do you have against Joe Lieberman? He is my kind of Democrat. But what is your beef with him? Are you a Democrat, he is a Democrat, he is a mandarin of the senate. Why are you taking him down?
Ned: I think George Bush is driving this country into a ditch and if Joe Lieberman won't engage him, I will. I think it is time for the Democrats to stand up. (Cheers and applause)
Stephen: They're just cheering for my comeback. (Laughter). But Joe Lieberman has friends in high places. The President, the Republicans. He gets along with those people. You can be a junior senator, you're not going to have the same tug. The President kissed him. Look at that.
You think the president is going to kiss, sir?
Ned: I prefer a respectful handshake, I should say.
Stephen: But I mean obviously the first stage is the handshake but after a couple years.
Ned: We'll see where we evolve from there if that is what you are suggesting.
Stephen: So are you open to the idea.
Ned: I'm open to the idea we need people to get down to Washington D.C. who stand up to this president, say it is time for us to start bringing our troops home from Iraq and give the people of Iraq the opportunity to solve this for themselves.
Stephen: So you are -- (applause)
Stephen: So your campaign slogan is "Cut and run"? You are a cut and runner.
Ned: I think what we are doing right now is a failure of our policy. I think the situation is getting worse every month. You have 3,000 dead a month right now over in Iraq. I think we have to change course--that is our best hope for success in Iraq.
Stephen: What do we do. We can't leave right now it is our -- things may not be going as well as we had hoped. We're on the road towards victory. But we can't get out now, then we've lost.
We get out now we've lost, would you agree?
Ned: No, I think our best hope for success which is a stable Iraq is for us to start bringing our troops home and have the Iraqis step up and take responsibility for their own destiny. We'll be there for political support, for humanitarian support, reconstruction, but only the Iraqis can solve this. We can't do it for them at the barrel of a gun. (Applause)
Stephen: Word on the street is that you are running against Joe Lieberman by running against the President. You are connecting these two people in people's minds, correct? You think Lieberman gets along with the president too well...
Ned: I think he enables this president. I think the president has taken this country way off course.
Stephen: Should we hinder the President, sir?
Ned: I mean --
Stephen: We should stand up right now.
He is at time of war. Commander of chief. Shouldn't we stand behind him unquestioningingly?
Ned: Not when he is wrong.
When he is wrong, I think it is our duty to stand up and Joe Lieberman chastised guys like Jack Murtha who said to stay the course was not a winning strategy. Lieberman said 'are you undermining the credibility of the President?' I think is our right to stand up as citizens.
Stephen: In a time of war, is that really the time to be asking whether we should be at war?
Ned: We've been over there three and a half years. We've been over there in Iraq almost longer than our troops were in World War II.
Stephen: When it is over we should ask whether we should leave.
Ned: At the pace he are going we will there for a long time. [My] best hope is to bring the troops home. We have to start asking those questions now. We got into this mess not because we asked too many questions but because we asked too few. And now is the time to start asking those questions.
Stephen: All right. But Lieberman is a Democrat. He must agree on a lot of things, right?
He is pro-choice. He's for taxing and spending like other Democrats. Anything else besides the war you are battling over here?
If the war ends, like if between now and the election which is eight days from now, correct.
Eight days from now.
Things could, we could turn the corner in Iraq between now and the 8th. And then where would you be left? What is your campaign based on other than opposition to the war?
Ned: I think the war is the defining issue. It is as a lot about what type of a country we are, what our priorities are. Here we are spending 250 million dollars a day in Iraq. And we're not investing in universal health care for all Americans. We're not investing in clean energy. We're not investing in grade schools. People I'm talking to want us to start taking care of Americans, start investing in America again and from Joe Lieberman, all they hear is all Iraq all the time and he has been wrong from the beginning.
Stephen: Now are you -- who is a greater friend of the state of Israel? You or Joe Lieberman?
I mean is there a greater friend to the state of Israel than you?
Ned: Look, I believe the senator and I both are committed to Israel's security and well-being. So I think Israel, that is part of our bipartisan tradition in this country. It goes become a long time.
Stephen: No difference there between the two?
Ned: No great difference, no sir.
Okay. Now I will say though when it comes to Israel, the invasion of Iraq has done nothing for Israel security. It has emboldened Iran and an emboldened Iran makes Israel more vulnerable. We took our eye off the ball when U.S. should have played its role as a peacekeeper. That is one of the reasons we have the trouble in Israel today.
Stephen: But we got Kaddafi to stand down.
Give me that, right?
Ned: I will give you that...
So you give that to Lieberman too?
Ned: I give that to the power of diplomacy. Gives you an idea that even Kaddafi stand down like what we could do if we engage in constructive diplomacy.
Stephen: What got you in the race? Did you look at the role and what has happened and say someone has to stand up against Lieberman because he is not fighting the? Was it the war that motivated you mostly?
Ned: The war was very important but fundamentally, I think the President has taken the country in the wrong direction. I look at $9 trillion debt. I look at Dick Cheney's energy bill with billions of dollars in subsidies for the oil producers. I look at 63 lobbyists for every single congressman in Washington D.C. I think we off our mornings and it is time for people to go down to Washington D.C. and say so.
Stephen: You are rich and best of all, you didn't have to work for all of it. Why aren't you a Republican?
Ned: I have been a Democrat all my life. When I turned 18, we had a guy named Richard Nixon who was our president and we had a war going on in Vietnam. And I just think the Democratic Party is a lot more progressive and a lot more entrepreneurial. I am a guy who started up a business from scratch and I think if you are an entrepreneur in business are you more likely to be a Democrat when it comes to your politics.
Stephen: Thank you for coming on, sir.
Senator Lieberman, ball is in your court, sir.