Joe Lieberman, Former US Senator and VP Candidate, Dies at 82

Joe Lieberman, a longtime Democratic politician who served as Al Gore’s vice presidential candidate in his 2000 run before turning independent in 2006, has died. He was 82 years old.

The Connecticut politician died due to complications from a fall, according to a statement from his family, released by longtime aide Dan Gerstein. Lieberman’s wife Hadassah and other family members were with him.

“Senator Lieberman’s love of God, his family, and America endured throughout his life in the public interest,” his family said in the statement.

The late senator spoke with the Hartford Courant in a November interview discussing being in Jerusalem, Israel during the Oct. 7 attacks of last year and shared that he could hear sirens.

“It seemed unreal, but as the day went on, it got painfully real,” he told the paper. “It’s a society that is, unfortunately, trained for moments like this, and they all did what they have to do.”

Lieberman was the first Jewish politician on a major party’s ticket for president. While Gore and Lieberman won the popular vote in 2000 by more than half a million votes, they famously fell short of the electoral college delegates needed to win the White House during a highly contested counting process following the election, dramatized in HBO’s 2008 film “Recount.” Republican George W. Bush and his running mate Dick Cheney instead headed to the White House.

He ran for the Democratic Party nomination himself in 2004 but failed to achieve significant support, losing the nomination to John Kerry.

First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1989, he was well-known for his moderate policies. However, after losing the Democratic primary to a more liberal rival, Ned Lamont, in 2006, Lieberman left the Democratic Party before winning re-election as an independent. He ultimately left the Senate at the end of that term. While always a moderate and conservative for a Democrat, he faced increasing opposition from both Democrats and other progressives over time.

Lieberman broke with his party in a variety of ways, while continuing to caucus with Democrats throughout his time in the Senate. This included endorsing Republican John McCain for president against Barack Obama in 2008. He declined to endorse either candidate in the 2012 race between Obama and Mitt Romney. Lieberman later endorsed both Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020.

The late senator was close friends with both McCain and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. “As I am just now leaving Israel, so many emotions,” Graham shared in a statement Wednesday. “This is devastatingly sad.”

On a lighter note, he added, “The good news, he is in the hands of the loving God. The bad news, John McCain is giving him an earful about how screwed up things are.” Graham ended his note, “Rest in peace, my dear friend. From the Last Amigo.”

While Lieberman voted for Obama’s Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” he was also known to have opposed a public health insurance option. This led to it being stripped from the bill before it was ultimately passed and signed into law.

The Connecticut native was born in 1942. He graduated from law school in 1967, avoiding the Vietnam War initially thanks to an educational deferment before later receiving a family deferment due to being married with a child. He was first elected to the Connecticut state Senate in 1970, before being voted out during the landslide election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

He served as Connecticut’s attorney general from 1983-1989, before leaving upon his election to the U.S. Senate. He was also the first major Democrat to publicly come out and criticize former President Bill Clinton for his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

His funeral is scheduled for this Friday, according to the Courant, with another memorial planned for a later date.

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