Students heard from the latest figure from Yale in politics Monday night, as Ned Lamont SOM ’80 stumped for his campaign at a meeting of the Yale College Democrats.
Lamont spoke before a crowded auditorium of 300 people, predominantly undergraduates, about his race to oust three-term incumbent Joe Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67 from his seat next month. Lamont spoke for thirty minutes, outlining his reasons for entering the race and touching on a wide variety of campaign topics ranging from education and the war in Iraq to what Lamont called Lieberman’s staunch support of President George W. Bush.
“George Bush was driving this country into a ditch, and if Lieberman wouldn’t stand up, I would,” Lamont said of his decision to enter the race.
Lamont said he deplored the intrusion of government into people’s private lives and what he called Lieberman’s warped view of bipartisanship. Lamont cited the Terry Schiavo case, where both Bush and Lieberman favored federal intervention, and domestic wiretaps, which he said were illegal and contrary to American values.
“Our country is stronger when we’re true to our constitutional liberties,” Lamont said.
While the issue that has garnered him the most national attention is his opposition to the war in Iraq, Lamont emphasized a broad spectrum of issues that he would support if elected to the Senate, highlighting free preschool for all children and more federal support for Pell grants. He also said the government had sacrificed public interest when it came to energy policy, the environment and medical care, blaming much of the problem on lobbyists’ influence in Washington.
“Earmarks — this is the currency of Jack Abramoff,” he said, referring to the congressional lobbyist, who has plead guilty to felony charges stemming from corruption scandals.
When the subject returned to Iraq, Lamont said the best hope for a secure America lay in a gradual withdrawal over the next year that would force Iraqis to take charge of their own future. Lamont said Lieberman’s attempt to silence critics of the war by saying dissent threatened the security of Iraq and the United States was disingenuous.
“We’re here for the troops, the generals, to make the world a safer place,” Lamont said. “140,000 of our bravest soldiers are stuck in a bloody civil war.”
Brendan Gants ’08, president of the College Democrats, said the evening was an opportunity to bring Lamont’s vision to the Yale community and an energizing event to get people involved generally in Democratic campaigns this fall.
While many attendees, especially those who took up the reserved front seats, were members of College Democrats or already involved in fall election campaigns, other students came with little knowledge of Lamont.
Stanley Yu ’10 said he knew nothing about the race, but he said wanted to know what all the buzz was about.
“I have no idea who [Lamont] is, so I decided to show up.”
Even those Democrats already familiar with Lamont said they were very impressed.
Ward 1 Alderman Nick Shalek ’05 said Lamont came across as extremely articulate.
“I was already planning on voting for him, but this leaves me with a positive feeling,” he said.
Though the event targeted liberal members of campus, some conservative students made the effort to attend.
Ben Simon ‘10 said he was a registered Republican, but that he had been interested in hearing Lamont speak.
“I will probably still vote against him,” Simon said after Lamont’s speech. “He didn’t seem entirely genuine, though maybe you can’t expect that.”
Gants said the speech Lamont gave was more polished than one in February.
“Every time we see him, he gets better,” he said.
Lamont will face off against Lieberman, who is running as an independent after losing the Democratic primary, and Republican Alan Schlesinger in the November 7 general election.