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Unlike some peers, Kerry not endorsing Lieberman in primary

WASHINGTON -- Senator John F. Kerry announced yesterday that he will support whoever wins next month's Democratic Senate primary in Connecticut, despite the decision by incumbent Senator Joseph I. Lieberman to run as an independent candidate if he loses the primary.

The announcement was made a day after a similar declaration by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who, like Kerry, is considering a presidential run in 2008.

But unlike Clinton, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- all of whom pledged to support Lieberman in the primary -- Kerry is declining to choose between Lieberman and his Democratic challenger Ned Lamont, said Amy Brundage , a spokesman for Kerry's political operation.

Brundage said the Massachusetts Democrat generally does not get involved in primaries, though Kerry has made exceptions in the past for candidates he favors. Earlier this year, he helped raise money for three Iraq war veterans who were involved in contested Democratic primaries for House seats.

Last month, Kerry endorsed Jim Webb in a race against another Democrat, Harris Miller, for the nomination for a Senate seat for Virginia. Kerry raised $32,000 for Webb via e-mailed fund-raising appeals, recorded a message for automatic calls to likely primary voters, and appeared at a Webb rally the night before the primary.

Brundage said that this year, Kerry is endorsing only candidates in contested primaries who are veterans.

``Since Kerry has made his personal mission for 2006 electing veterans to the House and Senate, he's likewise only taken sides in Democratic primaries to back candidates who are veterans," she said. ``Connecticut will choose the Democratic Senate nominee, and John Kerry will support him."

Lieberman has said he would remain a Democrat even if he runs as an unaffiliated candidate. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee officials are supporting Lieberman in the primary but have refused to say who m the committee would support if Lamont wins the Democratic nomination.

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