As many regular readers of DailyKos know, I've been working for Ned Lamont for the past few months, and have been here in Connecticut full time for the past few weeks. I'm riding with Ned on our Stand Up for Change bus tour and am filing regular reports from the road over at the bus tour's official site. Following this intro is a dispatch from today. Now, I know some of you are looking at the newspaper polls and feeling down about this race - but let me be very, very clear: you shouldn't. We are feeling really good. That's for two reasons - both of which are rooted not in wishful thinking, but cold, hard fact. First and foremost, the mathematics of these polls are very, very encouraging (more here on that point). Additionally, we've always known that this race is unprecedented and that the primary proved that no pollster has shown any ability to accurately poll this race in any real way.
This race is going to come down to the wire - and we're gaining every single day. That's why Lieberman is making statements saying he knows the race is going to tighten. That's why the Lieberthugz, likely paid for by Joe"s illegal slush fund, are out in force - even showing up to protest a candlelight vigil over job losses here in Torrington (apparently, in Lieberman land, it's a capital offense to discuss serious unemployment problems).
And let's be very clear: this race is a race because it's a real grassroots movement - not because it's some Washington creation. That means in the closing days, we need all your hands on deck. You can all make a huge difference - go here to see how you can help.
"It Smells Like Victory"
As we drive on to our next stop, there's a phrase that comes to mind to describe what the political landscape looks like right now. As Robert Duvall famously said in Apocalyse Now, "it smells like victory."
Following the Attack of the Lieberthugz this morning, we headed out to a senior center in Enfield where we were welcomed by an overflow crowd of about 100. Ned and Annie mingled with folks for about 30 minutes and then we headed off to a big event at AFSCME headquarters in New Britain. Again, it was an overflow crowd of more than 100, with Ned getting a huge applause throughout his speech.
Now we're on our way out from an energized town hall style event at the Polish American Citizens Club in Bristol, where about 150 people came out. The building had a real old-school character, bringing up images of an earlier day when social clubs - not Big Media - was ground zero in political races. As hot dogs brewed in the back of the main hall, folks in the crowd mingled with each other - and Ned asked all of them to use their personal social networks to spread our campaign's message of change. That's not a surprise - the Family Friends and Neighbors program, and the grassroots generally, has been the backbone of this David vs. Goliath campaign.
After his speech to the crowd, Ned headed to the back bar, and introduced himself to as many folks as he could. One guy spontaneously whipped out a handwritten list he had made of the top 11 reasons not to vote for Joe Lieberman.
With four days to go, Ned has fully honed in on Joe. In his speeches, he's drawing a crystal clear contrast with the 18-year career politician, and not just on Iraq. At AFSCME, for instance, Ned talked a lot about health care and how its finally time for Congress to ignore the Joe Liebermans who have stopped every effort to expand health care, and get serious about making sure every American has health care coverage.
But then, this race will always have the Iraq War running through it - especially considering that today also marked yet another act in the slow-motion, would-be-funny-if-not-so-serious real-life horror story known as The Return of Angry Joe. That's right - as Ned spent his day talking to as many Connecticut citizens as possible about issues, Joe spent his day throwing one of his vintage "I'm such a persecuted victim please feel sorry for me" temper tantrums. Yes, a day after refusing to appear on statewide television to debate the war with Ned and Republican nominee Alan Schlesinger, Joe held a press conference to scream and whine like a child about our new ad that references the war. Specifically, Joe took issue with the ad's matter-of-fact statement that a vote for Ned is a vote to change, and a vote for Joe is a vote for more war.
Joe stood in front of reporters and claimed with a straight face that there is "no evidence" to suggest that a vote for Joe is a vote for more war. I guess "no evidence" is defined as his votes against every serious effort to end the war and his statements attacking the patriotism of war critics.
When I went to baseball games with my dad as a kid, he always told me that when a ball is hit to the outfield, the way to tell if it's headed out of the park is not to watch the ball, but to watch the outfielder. Similarly, in politics, you can tell what's really going on by watching the candidate you are working against. The fact that Lieberman is holding a press conference to insist he's not for a war that he wrote the resolution for, pushed and continues to shill for means not just that he's dishonest - it means that he believes the key to his campaign is to confuse voters by tricking them into believing he is really against the war even as he aggressively pushes that same war.
But as acclaimed historian Rick Perlstein points out in an incisive op-ed in today"s Journal Inquirer, we've seen this act before. "Joe Lieberman is running touting his experience," writes Perlstein. "But it is clear that experience has taught him one of Nixon's favorite tricks - saying he's against the war, yet continuing to push it."
For a while, Joe's Nixonian tricks have worked. Consider this quote from a Toronto Star story today about Lieberman's position pushing President Bush's "stay the course" policy on Iraq:
"Yeah, it gives me pause," says Jean Michaud, a member of a local carpenters' union, which has stuck with Lieberman. "He is for it, but he's against it, too. He wants to bring the troops home. But it's not his fault; it's the top levels of the government."
But now, in the final days of the race, people are starting to tune in, starting to figure out that Lieberman is talking out of both sides of his mouth, and starting to see exactly what our new ad says: a vote for Joe Lieberman is a vote for more war. And Joe knows that the awakening that is happening all over this small state means his time arrogantly using Connecticut's senate seat for his own personal agenda is coming to an end.