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updated 9/15/2006 4:07:32 PM ET 2006-09-15T20:07:32

Ned Lamont (D) won the first battle in the war for Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman's seat, but he has an even tougher one ahead before he can wrest it from the three-term incumbent.

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Now that the primary is over, its results might mean little more than which letter goes next to which politician's name on the ballot. Lamont must convince a more diverse crowd of voters that he can represent their interests better than Lieberman, who has 18 years of experience in the upper chamber.

To that end, Lamont is pounding away at the message that got him into the race in the first place: opposition to the war in Iraq. His new TV ad has a cinematic black-and-white opening with a boy reading names from a list of officers from across the country who have been killed in action in Iraq.

Lieberman's relationship with President Bush serves as subtext in both the ad and the race as a whole. Lamont asks why "they" should be listened to, what "they" have been right about so far and how "they" have made Americans safer -- linking the two 2004 presidential candidates from opposing parties. Earlier in the cycle, he aired an ad showing an enormous float of the two kissing.

Lamont's "Patriot" ad was released just days before this year's Patriot's Day, when the president invoked the 9/11 attacks while making the case to stay in Iraq. Referring to the Americans who have been killed there, the challenger argues at the close of his ad that the war has cost much more than the billions of dollars spent to wage it.

Considering Lamont's upstart, anti-war campaign received so much attention from the media and assistance from an energized Internet following, it's no surprise that Lieberman avoids any mention of the conflict in his latest spot.

Instead, the incumbent gets back to his roots in a new spot touting his "Connecticut values," giving a twist to a term that often modifies "values" in campaign ads ("conservative"). After months of broadcasting on Nutmeg State airwaves, Lieberman starts from scratch with a biographical spot emphasizing his lefty credentials by reminding voters that he marched for civil rights and fought for the environment "before it was popular."

CAMPAIGN CHECK: Getting Religion In Tennessee
Election watchers drawn to the heated Senate races in Connecticut and Tennessee won't get a chance to see the candidates go head-to-head. Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford Jr.'s (D) communications director Carol Andrews e-mailed reporters last week to say that Bob Corker -- Ford's Republican opponent in the race for retiring Majority Leader Bill Frist's (R) seat -- "has officially turned down" NBC's request for a debate on "Meet The Press."

That's not to say Corker and Ford aren't going after each other. Both candidates have complained in recent ads that their opponent's attacks are inaccurate. Ford's new spot takes a jab at Corker by reminding voters of the intense GOP primary that spawned plenty of intraparty negative ads. It also features the 36-year-old walking through a church, pointing out his religious upbringing in an effort to attract a generally Republican stronghold -- religious voters.

Corker released two ads of his own today in what may be an attempt to negate any boost Ford gets from his church-set ad. Charging that Ford has misrepresented his own stance on illegal immigration, a press release notes that the new spot brands him "Tennessee's most liberal congressman."

Erin McPike is a staff writer for NationalJournal.com.

Copyright 2012 by National Journal Group Inc.

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