After swaying gently to the hymn “God Will Take Care of You,” Ned Lamont went the pulpit and asked congregants at the Messiah Baptist Church to break from a three-term incumbent and support his bid for U.S. Senate.
A few miles away, U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman urged those in the Iglesia Cristiana Buen Pastor parish to vote in the Aug. 8 Democratic primary for someone they like and trust.
“You and I know each other. We are like familia,” said Lieberman, drawing chuckles from the crowd for using the Spanish word.
Lieberman and Lamont are locked in a tight primary race. The most recent Quinnipiac Poll showed Lamont with a slight lead over Lieberman, 51 to 47 percent among likely voters. The survey’s sampling error margin is plus or minus 4 percentage points. The senator held a 14-point lead in June.
The candidates kicked off their last full week of campaigning Sunday morning in Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest city, which has struggled with poverty, job losses and corruption. Both brought along political firepower as they reached out to different ethnic groups.
U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., made his pitch for Lieberman in both Spanish and English at the Iglesia Cristiana Buen Pastor.
“Joe Lieberman is a hero of mine and someone who has inspired me,” said Salazar, a Mexican-American and one of the first Hispanics in the U.S. Senate. He said Lieberman believes in equal protection and equal opportunity for everyone, including immigrants.
Later, U.S. Sens. Joe Biden, D-Del. and Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, campaigned with Lieberman at other events. Bill Clinton has also lent his support.
‘Stand up and challenge’
Lamont, a millionaire Greenwich businessman, had U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., at his side at the Messiah Baptist Church, whose members are black. Waters, who is black, brought many of the parishioners to their feet when she described Lamont as a man “who had the audacity to stand up and challenge” Lieberman.
“I’m moved by his spirit. I’m moved by his courage. I’m moved he wants to take this country in a different direction,” said Waters, who, like Lamont, opposes the war in Iraq.
Both candidates have visited several minority churches in recent weeks.
Marilyn Moore, 58, said she is supporting Lamont. Although she voted for Lieberman before, she’s unhappy with his support of the Iraq war.
“Too many lives are being lost. We’re not making any headway,” Moore said.
Carmen Morales, 38, whose brother is serving in Iraq, said she’ll likely support Lieberman, who opposes a firm timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops.
“What has to get done has to get done,” she said. “It’s up to what path God wants.”
Lamont on Sunday picked up the endorsement of The New York Times. The Washington Post backed Lieberman, as did The Hartford Courant and the Connecticut Post, the state’s two largest newspapers.