ALBANY, N.Y. — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a longtime supporter of Sen. Joseph Lieberman, said Tuesday that she would not back the Connecticut Democrat's bid for reelection if he lost their party's primary and ran as an independent.
"I've known Joe Lieberman for more than 30 years. I have been pleased to support him in his campaign for reelection and hope that he is our party's nominee," the former first lady said in a statement issued by aides.
"But I want to be clear that I will support the nominee chosen by Connecticut Democrats in their primary," the New York Democrat added. "I believe in the Democratic Party, and I believe we must honor the decisions made by Democratic primary voters."
Asked about Clinton's comment, Lieberman spokeswoman Marion Steinfels said the three-term senator was "totally focused on winning the Democratic primary."
"Sen. Clinton and President Clinton have both been supporters of Sen. Lieberman for many, many years. He greatly values her friendship and her support in the primary," Steinfels said.
Facing a strong primary challenge from businessman Ned Lamont and sagging poll numbers because of his support for the Iraq war, Lieberman said Monday that he'll collect signatures to ensure an independent ballot spot for the November election if he loses the Aug. 8 primary.