WASHINGTON Sen. Joe Lieberman's re-election bid is getting some outside help from a group grateful for the lawmaker's support for the Iraq war.
Vets for Freedom, an independent group with Republican ties, will air an ad in Connecticut Wednesday and Thursday featuring veterans from the state who thank the three-term incumbent for backing the conflict.
Executive director Wade Zirkle said his group's political arm is spending $60,000 to broadcast the commercial on cable and network channels.
"We want to support policymakers who've been supportive of troops in the field,"said Zirkle.
Vets for Freedom calls itself a nonpartisan organization that was founded by Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans.
Republican strategist Dan Senor, former spokesman for the defunct Coalition Provisional Authority in post-invasion Iraq; Bill Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, and former Lieberman chief of staff Bill Andresen have advised the group, Zirkle said.
The ad features Connecticut veterans praising Lieberman's Iraq stance.
"When we were over there, it was important to know that someone had our back,"one of the veterans says in the commercial.
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Anti-war challenger Ned Lamont made Lieberman's support for the war a major issue in his primary victory last month. Lieberman launched an independent bid to retain his seat after losing the primary.
The Lamont campaign denounced the group's tactics and questioned its GOP ties.
Lamont aides cited Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which attacked Sen. John Kerry's war record during the 2004 presidential race.
"It is certainly troubling because it is very reminiscent of how the Swift Boat campaign started against Kerry,"said Lamont spokeswoman Liz Dupont-Diehl.
Polls show Lieberman leading Lamont and Republican Alan Schlesinger, who has failed to win the backing of the national GOP. In Connecticut Tuesday, Lieberman focused on appealing to all voters.
"I don't have a political party organization anymore, so Hadassah and I are going to reach out to individual voters _ Democrats, Republicans, independents _ at their doorsteps,"Lieberman said in launching his door-to-door campaign with his wife.
Lamont and Lieberman are expected to be in Washington on Wednesday with Congress'return but it is unlikely they will cross paths.
Lieberman plans to attend the traditional Democratic caucus luncheon, where he will encounter many of the Democratic colleagues who now support Lamont, the nominee. The senator has pledged to remain in the Democratic caucus if he wins a fourth term.
"If some people give me a warm embrace, I'll welcome it. If some people avert their eyes _ that's life,"Lieberman said.
Lamont will not attend the lunch. He has meetings with party leaders, union officials and business leaders planned before he returns to Connecticut on Thursday.
Associated Press Writer Cara Rubinsky in Hartford, Conn., contributed to this report.
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