His votes this year match up well with other Democrats. He has been with the party on 88.8 percent of the 303 Senate votes he has cast so far this year; take away Iraq-related votes, and the percentage would be closer to the 95.7 percent logged by the state's senior senator, Democrat Christopher Dodd.

Even with the Iraq votes, Lieberman's record is close to the Democratic Senate average of 88.9 percent and consistent with his earlier years' voting patterns.

He describes himself as part of a long party tradition of senators who were considered progressive on social issues and hard-liners on foreign and defense policy, and cites President Kennedy, former Sen. Henry ``Scoop'' Jackson and others.

``He cannot leave the Democratic Party in the Senate without fundamentally turning his back on where he wants this country to go,'' Davis said, adding that a Republican majority would be anathema to Lieberman's hopes for the environment and social justice.

```Government is a friend, not an enemy.' That philosophy is where Joe Lieberman still is,'' Davis said. ``I have no doubt I am right about that.''

Foreign Alliance

Still, Lieberman's strong Democratic voting record often is obscured by a willingness to go further and further to embrace those sympathetic to his views on the Middle East.

``I go where I am comfortable,'' he said last week after a public appearance in Milford. ``And I'll be going to a lot of different places -- and on all sides.''

Last month, Lieberman warmly greeted Pastor John Hagee, a founder of Christians United for Israel and a man who agrees with Lieberman's view that a pre-emptive U.S. strike may one day be necessary to neutralize Iran.

``I would describe Pastor Hagee with the words the Torah uses to describe Moses,'' Lieberman told Hagee and his followers at a recent conference the group held in Washington, at which Lieberman was invited to speak. ``He is an `Eesh Elo Kim,' a man of God, because those words fit him; and like Moses, he has become the leader of a mighty multitude in pursuit of defense of Israel.''

But Hagee also has preached that sin in New Orleans may have brought on the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which Hagee says arrived just in time to stop a ``homosexual parade.''

Lieberman said he disagreed with Hagee's comments about New Orleans, but he did not regret addressing Hagee's group or comparing the pastor to Moses. A copy of Lieberman's speech to the group is on his Senate website.

``Frankly, I didn't know what he had said -- I heard about it since then -- about New Orleans,'' said Lieberman, who had never met Hagee before his speech. ``But he is a very good man. He and his group, I think, represent an important force in our politics.''

Lieberman also declined to comment on his feelings about Hagee's belief that the return of Christ is imminent -- as is the ``Rapture,'' a time when Christians will be lifted from Earth, leaving nonbelievers to suffer.

``I don't agree with them on every religious aspect of their lives,'' Lieberman said, declining to identify areas of disagreement. ``I'm more interested in the political movement that Pastor Hagee represents than getting into all the details of theology.''

And they agree, he said, on foreign policy.

``I feel, when I am with them, I feel a real bond of faith and a great sort of sense of, you know, shared ideas about foreign policy,'' Lieberman said. ``That's why I go.''

Supporting Republicans

To Lieberman, an alliance with John Hagee is no different from working across the aisle in the Senate with McCain, the Arizona senator who is seeking his party's nomination for president.

``I form partnerships with people in Congress on big issues, [whom] I disagree with on other issues, even my buddy, McCain,'' Lieberman said.