The war in Iraq is playing a central role in the re-election battle of one of the country's best-known Democrats, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. Lieberman faces a tough primary challenge from fellow Democrat Ned Lamont on Tuesday because of his Lieberman's support for the war.
Joe Lieberman is known as one of the country's most prominent moderate Democrats. He is seeking a fourth six-year term in the Senate and was Al Gore's vice presidential running mate in the 2000 presidential election.
But Lieberman now finds himself fighting to continue his political career against fellow Democrat and political newcomer Ned Lamont.
Lamont has capitalized on strong anti-war views among Connecticut Democrats, and leads Lieberman in several polls in advance of Tuesday's primary election.
Lieberman has been fighting back in recent days, acknowledging his support for the Iraq war, but also pointing out he has criticized the Bush administration's handling of the situation there.
"I know that I have taken a position on one issue, Iraq, which is not shared by a lot of other Democrats," he said on ABC's This Week program. "But my opponent is essentially saying to them, 'use this primary to vote against George Bush.' But I am not George Bush. I have been against George Bush on most things."
Challenger Ned Lamont has tapped his personal fortune to run a strong campaign against Lieberman. Lamont says the race demonstrates how unpopular the Iraq war has become among liberal Democrats.
"It is an issue about the war, but it is also an issue about what type of a country we are," Lamont told on ABC television. "I think people are tired of spending all that money in Iraq. They want to start investing in our country again."
The Lieberman-Lamont race is drawing national attention, because Iraq has become the central issue in the campaign.
John Orman, a professor of politics at Fairfield University in Connecticut, says candidates and political experts around the country will be watching the Lieberman race to gauge the impact of Iraq on the 2006 congressional elections in November.
"It is coming very early, and it is going to let citizens know how important that issue is going to be, especially in a Democratic state like Connecticut," said Orman. "The party seems to be having a battle here in Connecticut for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party."
Senator Lieberman has drawn some well-known Democrats to campaign for him, including former President Bill Clinton.
Ned Lamont is getting support from some liberal activist groups and so-called bloggers, commentators on the Internet, who have helped to spark national interest in the Senate race.
Lieberman has already taken steps to run as an independent candidate against Lamont in November, if he loses on Tuesday.