Following a disappointing showing in seven primaries Tuesday, Sen. Joseph Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67 withdrew from the race for the Democratic presidential nomination last night.
Speaking from his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va., Lieberman thanked the other six candidates in the race and pledged to support the eventual Democratic nominee in the general election against President George W. Bush ’68. But Lieberman also said he still believed his campaign, which flagged after beginning last year atop national polls, offered a centrist vision Democrats would need to defeat Bush in November.
“It is now time to make a difficult but realistic decision” said Lieberman, a life-long Connecticut resident. “Am I disappointed? Naturally. But am I proud of what we stood for in this campaign? You bet I am.”
Following a fifth-place showing in New Hampshire last week, Lieberman and his supporters had considered Delaware the senator’s best hope of picking up a primary victory. But early returns from Delaware showed Lieberman far behind Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry ’66, and Lieberman announced his withdrawal less than an hour and a half after the polls closed in the First State.
In last night’s other primaries, Kerry also won by a significant margin yesterday in Missouri, Arizona, New Mexico and North Dakota, while North Carolina Sen. John Edwards earned a resounding victory in South Carolina and narrowly lost to Gen. Wesley Clark in Oklahoma.
Well-known for his role as former Vice President Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, Lieberman failed to translate his name recognition into a successful national campaign. While Lieberman parted company with his fellow Democratic contenders with his staunch support of the war in Iraq, the three-term senator said he still thought his message — which led many primary voters to label him as too conservative — was best-suited for the Democrats to take back the White House.
“I offered a mainstream voice, and I still believe that is the right choice and the winning choice for our party and our country,” Lieberman said last night.
While he trailed Kerry even among Connecticut Democrats, Lieberman — whose exit from the race leaves Bush, Kerry and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean ’71 as the remaining Yalies seeking the presidency — had earned the endorsements of several major Democrats in his home state. Lieberman, who began his career in public service with his election to the Connecticut State Senate in 1970, had been publicly supported by fellow Sen. Christopher Dodd, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr.