updated 10/11/2006 7:12:20 PM ET 2006-10-11T23:12:20

Sen. Joe Lieberman defended his civil rights record, disputing a black Democratic group’s charge he lied about his 1960s activism fighting segregation in the South.

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“That’s really outrageous and, of course, it’s a lie,” Lieberman said Wednesday.

The Connecticut Federation of Black Democratic Clubs, which includes 20 clubs across the state, endorsed Lieberman’s Democratic rival Ned Lamont and questioned whether he marched for civil rights.

“Senator, the Connecticut Federation of Black Democratic Clubs is offended by your television ad which claims you were an advocate for African-Americans’ first-class citizenship and as such you marched for our civil rights,” said Henry E. Parker, a former state treasurer and New Haven mayor, during a news conference attended by Lamont.

“Our research indicates that there is no evidence of you taking any action that could be described as an initiative to remove the shackles of second-class citizenship,” Parker said.

Lieberman’s campaign produced a 1963 college newspaper clip that cites Lieberman’s reporting from Jackson, Miss., about the arrests of civil rights workers. Lieberman was chairman of the Yale Daily News.

“Was I there?” Lieberman said. “You bet I was there.”

Lieberman said he led a group of Yale students to Mississippi. He also recalled being part of the Washington, D.C., crowd at Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.,’s famed “I Have a Dream” speech in August 1963.

Lamont’s campaign manager Tom Swan said Lamont was not questioning Lieberman’s civil rights background. However, Lamont’s campaign paid for a flier the group distributed at the event.

“Ned Lamont was right there, he can’t discount this,” said Lieberman, noting that Lamont voiced no disagreement with the group’s charges at the news conference.

Lamont has contributed $8,751,500 of his own personal wealth to his Senate bid, including a $2 million check he wrote on Tuesday. The latest poll showed him trailing Lieberman, 48-40 percent, with Republican Alan Schlesinger at just 4 percent.

Lieberman launched an independent bid after losing the Democratic primary to anti-war challenger Lamont in August.

Sixty percent of respondents in the Hartford Courant/University of Connecticut poll released Wednesday agreed with Lamont that going to war with Iraq was wrong. Lieberman, however, won support from nearly one-third of anti-war voters and 70 percent of those who supported the invasion.

The telephone poll of 637 registered voters was conducted Oct. 4-9 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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