Former Senator Joe Lieberman, Democratic Vice President in 2000, Dies at 82

(Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press)

Former Senator Joe Lieberman, Democratic Vice President in 2000, Dies at 82

March 27, 2024

Former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who nearly won the vice presidency with Al Gore in the disputed 2000 elections and almost became Republican John McCain’s running mate eight years later, has died, a report shows. statement from him. family.

Lieberman died Wednesday in New York City due to complications following a fall, the statement said. Hey, it was 82.

The independent-turned-Democrat was never shy about straying from the party line.

Lieberman’s independent streak and especially his commitment to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential election left many Democrats, the party he aligned with in the Senate, in the rankings. Yet over the years, his support for gay rights, civil rights, abortion rights and environmental causes has sometimes earned him the praise of many liberals.

Lieberman came tantalizingly close to winning the vice presidency in the contentious 2000 presidential election, which was decided by a 537-vote victory for George W. Bush in Florida after a lengthy recount, legal challenges and a Supreme Court decision. He was the first Jewish candidate on a major party’s presidential ticket and would have been the first Jewish vice president.

He was also the first national Democrat to publicly criticize President Bill Clinton for his extramarital affair with a White House intern.

Lieberman frustrates Democrats

Lieberman sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, but dropped out after a weak performance in the early primaries. Four years later, he was an independent who was almost chosen as McCain’s running mate. He and McCain were close friends who shared their hawkish views on military and national security issues.

McCain was leaning heavily toward choosing Lieberman as his nominee as the 2008 Republican Convention approached, but he opted for Sarah Palin at the last minute after a fierce backlash from conservatives over Lieberman’s liberal record, according to Steve Schmidt, who chairs the campaign. McCain led.

Lieberman sparked controversy in 1998 when he blasted Clinton, his longtime friend, for disgraceful behavior in an explosive speech on the Senate floor during the height of the scandal over his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Still, Lieberman later voted against Clinton’s impeachment.

He defended his partisan choices as a matter of conscience and said he always had the best interests of Connecticut voters in mind. Critics accused him of pursuing narrow self-interest and political opportunism.

In announcing his retirement from the Senate in 2013, Lieberman acknowledged that he did not always fit easily into conventional political boxes and felt his first responsibility was to serve his constituents, the state and the country, and not his political party. He had a tortured relationship with the Democrats.

During his final speech in the Senate, Lieberman urged Congress to look beyond party lines and partisan rancor to break the impasse in Washington.

It requires reaching across the aisle and finding partners from the other party, Lieberman said. That is what is desperately needed in Washington right now.

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Harry Reid, who served as Democratic Senate leader, once said that while he did not always agree with the independent-minded Lieberman, he did respect him.

Regardless of our differences, I have never doubted Joe Lieberman’s principles or his patriotism, Reid said. And I respect his independent streak because it comes from strong convictions.

Privately, some Democrats were often less charitable about Lieberman’s forays across party lines, which they viewed as disloyal. He left his party and became an independent after a 2006 Senate primary in Connecticut.

Lieberman’s strong support of the Iraq War damaged his statewide popularity. Democrats rejected Lieberman and handed the 2006 primaries to a political newcomer and anti-war candidate, Ned Lamont.

Defying Democratic leaders and friends, Lieberman successfully ran for re-election as an independent and received support from some Republican allies. Lieberman received praise from the White House and help from prominent Republicans, such as then-Mayor of New York Mike Bloomberg, who later came to power as an independent.

Lieberman made his experience in the Senate and his influence in Congress a strong selling point, saying he had fought hard for U.S. defense jobs and a fair share of federal wealth. The strategy paid off.

Lieberman won re-election to a fourth term even as many of his Democratic allies and longtime friends, including former Sen. Chris Dodd, supported Lamont. Lieberman was outspoken about what he considered betrayals by old friends like Dodd, but the two men later reconciled.

Lieberman and Conrad will not seek re-election to the Senate

After his rebound re-election in 2006, Lieberman decided to caucus with Senate Democrats, who in return let him lead a committee because they needed his vote to maintain control of the closely divided chamber. But it didn’t take long for Lieberman to show his independent streak and confuse his Democratic caucus colleagues.

Despite Democrats’ decision to have him join their caucus as an independent, Lieberman was an enthusiastic supporter of McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

Lieberman’s 2008 Republican Party nomination speech, in which he criticized Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, struck a deep chord with many Democrats.

Lieberman cast Obama as a political showhorse, a lightweight with a meager record in the Senate despite his enormous oratory skills as a speaker.

In the Senate, during Senator Obama’s three and a half years in office, he has not reached across party lines to achieve anything significant, nor has he been willing to take on powerful interest groups in the Democratic Party. to get something done, Lieberman said at the convention.

Eloquence is no substitute for a record, he said.

Lieberman campaigned heartily for McCain across the country. Many Democrats saw it as a betrayal of Obama and his former party colleagues.

Joe Lieberman has said things that are completely irresponsible when it comes to Barack Obama, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said in a radio interview during the 2008 race.

After the election, there was speculation that Senate Democrats would strip Lieberman of his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee as revenge. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, was among those who said Lieberman should lose his chairmanship. Leahy described Lieberman’s attacks on Obama as unimaginable.

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But at Obama’s insistence, Senate Democrats decided not to punish Lieberman for his support of McCain and the Republican ticket. Obama was eager to strike a bipartisan tone for his presidency, and giving Lieberman an endorsement helped reinforce that message.

Still, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent and staunch liberal, called it a slap in the face to millions of Americans who supported Obama.

Lieberman was known in the Senate for his hawkish foreign policy views, his pro-defense leanings and his strong support for environmental issues.

Five weeks after the attacks of September 11, 2001, he became one of the first politicians to call for the ouster of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and later voted in favor of the military invasion of Iraq. His vocal support for the war would later derail his candidacy for the 2006 Democratic primary in Connecticut.

Lieberman tended to vote with Democrats on most issues and was a long-time supporter of abortion rights, a position that would have proven problematic for conservatives had McCain chosen him as his running mate in 2008.

He played a key role in the legislation that created the Department of Homeland Security.

Lieberman grew up in Stamford, Connecticut, where his father ran a liquor store. Lieberman graduated from Yale University and Yale Law School in New Haven. As Attorney General of Connecticut from 1983 to 1988, he was a strong advocate for consumers and the environment. Lieberman rose to the Senate by defeating moderate Republican incumbent Lowell Weicker in 1988.

After leaving the Senate in 2013, Lieberman joined a law firm in New York City.

Lieberman and his wife Hadassah have four children.

Former Associated Press writer Andrew Miga contributed to this report.


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