Speaking in Mansfield this week a tanned Ned Lamont just back from the Middle East spoke about his visits to Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza strip, as well as Syria and Lebanon. Lamont made the journey with Mercy Corps, a non-governmental organization that helps with small business development.

As he looked with a critical eye at the first 100 days of President Barack Obama’s administration, Lamont spoke very candidly about his disappointment over some of the Iraq War rhetoric that went on during his 2006 race for US Senate against US Sen. Joseph Lieberman.

That closely watched race in 2006 unnerved many state and national Democrats hoping to see change in Washington. But two years later Lamont seems highly confident about the Obama administration, hopeful about America’s future and the role of Connecticut in that future, and by the way, is more interested in the Governor’s seat here than in the U.S. Senate.

As for his future plans, Lamont has said he will make a decision about whether or not to run against Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell shortly.

When asked about his further interest in the US Senate, and the current battle heating up between Chris Dodd and Republicans such as Rob Simmons, Lamont quipped, “I’m much more interested in State of Connecticut politics right now.” The twinkle in his eyes, however, suggests he is looking forward to the campaigning that is about to begin.

Click here or here or here to listen to Dori’s interview with Lamont and coverage of the event.

Lamont will appear with Democracy for America Chairman Jim Dean 7 p.m. Thursday, May 7 at the United Church of Christ meeting room in West Hartford. The topic of discussion this time will be health care reform.