updated 1/20/2004 12:35:00 AM ET 2004-01-20T05:35:00

Buoyed by an endorsement by New Hampshire’s largest newspaper, Democratic presidential hopeful Joseph Lieberman was not dwelling on Iowa on Monday night.

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“The most important thing from my point of view, since I didn’t compete there, is Iowa’s over,” said Lieberman, a senator from Connecticut who was the 2000 vice presidential nominee. “We’re now on to New Hampshire, and New Hampshire is a whole new ballgame.”

The Union Leader, New Hampshire’s largest and only statewide newspaper, generally favors conservative Republicans in its editorials. But in an editorial to be published Tuesday, it hailed Lieberman for sticking to his convictions.

“Make no mistake. We have great differences with many of his social and big-spending positions,” the editorial said, singling out Lieberman’s support for abortion rights as an example.

“But in a campaign in which the flip-flops and outrageous statements are unending, Joe Lieberman’s refusal to pander is refreshing and remarkable. He is worth the consideration and support of independent-minded primary voters,” it said.

Lieberman said of the paper’s decision: “I feel like a winner tonight.”

“Tomorrow morning, we’re going to welcome back those other candidates from Iowa,” he told several hundred supporters earlier at a rally. “We’re ready! We’re ready to fight for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.”

Although his strategy of focusing on New Hampshire has not translated into high poll numbers, he urged supporters to think beyond the state’s Jan. 27 primary to the general election.

He said he thought the race remained wide open and that Sen. John Kerry’s win in Iowa would not affect his strategy in New Hampshire. Lieberman said he would continue to run an “affirmative” campaign emphasizing his experience and readiness to face President Bush in the general election.

“People are taking a second look,” Lieberman said. “People know who I am. They can predict what kind of president I will be. Most importantly, I know who I am and what I stand for.”

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