WASHINGTON – Democrat Joe Lieberman (search), facing an uncertain showing in his must-win state of Delaware, was making contingency plans Tuesday to withdraw from the presidential race, according to sources close to the campaign.
The campaign was making calls to close supporters asking them to be at the Hyatt Regency in Arlington, Va., Tuesday night at the postelection party. If Lieberman does not win at least one state -- and his best hope is Delaware -- he will make his concession speech there, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He then would head home to Connecticut for a formal announcement in Hartford Wednesday.
While campaign staff continued to insist that Lieberman was moving on to campaign in Virginia this week, others close to the senator confirmed they have been told about a tentative 3 p.m. event in Hartford on Wednesday.
Campaign spokesman Adam Kovacevich denied that calls were being made.
"Funny things happen on election day, and I'm certain the other campaigns would love not to have to compete against the candidate who George Bush fears the most," Kovacevich said. "But we're moving forward and will be campaigning in Virginia on Wednesday."
Lieberman had pinned his hopes on the Tuesday contests, dubbed Tidal Wave Tuesday by his supporters, hoping they would catapult him to the front of the pack in the presidential race.
But public opinion polls show front-runner John Kerry, the winner in Iowa and New Hampshire, with the lead in at least five of the seven contests Tuesday. Rivals John Edwards and Wesley Clark were looking for strong finishes to keep them in the race.
With his poll numbers stalled in single digits, Lieberman was never able to overcome a campaign crippled by a slow start, tepid fund-raising and a message that was often haphazard.
And while he was praised as thoughtful and intelligent, his close supporters acknowledged that his moderate views and staunch support of the war in Iraq would be tough sells to the more liberal Democratic primary voters.
Lieberman was the 2000 vice presidential nominee and held off in announcing his presidential bid until former running mate Al Gore signaled that he would not make another run for the White House.