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Thursday, March 4

Lieberman calls for bipartisan effort on Iraq policy

By Katherine Hutt Scott | GNS

WASHINGTON - Democrats and Republicans must rise above election-year battles and work together to win the war against terrorists who threaten both Iraq and the United States, Sen. Joe Lieberman said Thursday in his first major Senate floor speech since ending his presidential campaign.

``If we fail to stop these insurgents and lose the peace in Iraq, we will condemn the Iraqi people to relentless violence, the Middle East will be destabilized, and we will give the forces of worldwide terrorism new confidence, new energy and new resources to attack us,'' said Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat.

His remarks came two days after terrorists carried out synchronized suicide bombings and mortar attacks against Shiite Muslim worshippers in Iraq that left more than 100 dead and hundreds injured.

``We Democrats and Republicans must therefore in this campaign see beyond the red states and the blue states to a larger cause that is as critical to the red, white and blue as any America has ever fought for,'' Lieberman said. He was referring to the colors used to identify Democratic and Republican states on election-year maps.

``It is the cause of defeating Jihadist terrorists who hate us, and our free and tolerant ways of life, more than they love life itself, and who would, if we allow them, plunge the modern world into a primitive, global religious war,'' Lieberman said.

Lieberman said U.S. political leaders have put partisan differences aside in the past. After World War II, for example, Congress and the White House forged a bipartisan foreign policy to combat communism.

``I am not optimistic any of these ideals will be realized this year because of the rigid partisanship that has gripped our political system,'' Lieberman said.

His speech echoed remarks he made Feb. 3 when ending his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination. In that speech, Lieberman urged Americans to "come together now as one people."

The senator, a strong supporter of last year's war against Iraq, found that position a hindrance while seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. The war turned out to be enormously unpopular in Iowa and New Hampshire, which voted first.

(Contributing: Steven Komarow, USA TODAY, and Mike Madden, GNS.)