Joe Lieberman, longtime senator and vice presidential nominee, dies at 82

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., who was the first Jewish American to be nominated on a major party's ticket in 2000, has died at the age of 82 "due to complications from a fall." File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
1 of 9 | Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., who was the first Jewish American to be nominated on a major party's ticket in 2000, has died at the age of 82 "due to complications from a fall." File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

March 27 (UPI) -- Longtime U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who was a vice presidential nominee for the Democratic Party in 2000, has died at the age of 82.

Lieberman, who served in the U.S. Senate for 24 years, died Wednesday "due to complications from a fall," according to a statement from his family. "His wife, Hadassah, and members of his family were with him as he passed."


Lieberman, who was born in Stamford, Conn., in 1942, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1988 after serving as a Connecticut state senator and attorney general. Before that, he attended and completed law school at Yale in 1967.

Lieberman was a staunch supporter of Israel and spent much of his Senate career focused on foreign policy. He helped lead the development of the Department of Homeland Security after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.


In 2000, Lieberman became the first Jewish American to be nominated on a major party's ticket when he was named Al Gore's running mate. The Gore-Lieberman ticket lost in one of the closest elections in U.S. history. Lieberman ran for the Democratic nomination in 2004, but dropped out of the race during the primaries.

While a longtime Democrat, Lieberman was well-known for his collaboration with his Republican colleagues, the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and his support for the Iraq War before becoming an Independent.

Lieberman faced backlash for his support of the war in Iraq and lost his Senate primary in 2006 to future Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont. Lieberman ultimately won re-election as a third-party candidate under the Connecticut for Lieberman banner. It was the last time a third-party candidate has won a Senate seat.

"If the people of Connecticut are good enough to send me back to Washington as an independent Democrat, I promise them I will keep fighting for the same progressive new ideas and for stronger national security," he said.

In 2008, McCain considered Lieberman as a running mate on his 2008 GOP presidential ticket. "And I still believe, whatever the effect it would have had in some quarters of the party, that a McCain-Lieberman ticket would have been received by most Americans as a genuine effort to pull the country together for a change."


Lieberman, who called himself an "Independent Democrat," went on to endorse McCain for president and even spoke on his behalf at the 2008 Republican National Convention.

"I am here tonight because John McCain's whole life testifies to a great truth: Being a Democrat or a Republican is important, but it is nowhere near as important as being an American," Lieberman told the crowd.

Lieberman retired from the Senate in January 2013, before becoming the face of the political organization No Labels, to give voters a third choice in elections.

"The parties are failing the American people because they're rarely willing to do anything but attack for political reasons," Lieberman told Connecticut Public Radio last year. "Fighting each other on the big issues makes us a weaker country."

While Lieberman supported liberal causes, including civil rights, gay rights, abortion rights and environmental causes, he also supported conservative causes, including efforts to combat sex and violence in music, movies and video games.

In 2017, former President Donald Trump considered Lieberman for FBI director despite his having endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign. Lieberman was one of four potential candidates who met with Trump after he fired former FBI Director James Comey.


In his support of Israel, Lieberman joined Trump to mark the move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem saying, "I am grateful to President Trump for making this decision."

Just last week, Lieberman blasted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for saying Israel needs to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"While Mr. Schumer's statement undoubtedly pleased American critics of Israel," Lieberman wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "for Israelis it was meaningless, gratuitous and offensive."

As some Democratic strategists dubbed Lieberman "Traitor Joe," others called him a "unifier."

While Lieberman was one of many Jewish members in the Senate, he was the first Orthodox Jew and avoided all business from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.

"Religion is a very personal force and a factor in our lives," his wife, Hadassah, told the Chicago Tribune in 1988. "On Friday nights and Saturdays, he doesn't do anything political. That's a centering factor."

On Wednesday night, Sen. Graham reacted to the news of his "dear friend Joe Lieberman's passing."

"As I am just now leaving Israel, so many emotions," Graham wrote in a post on X. "This is devastatingly sad. I feel fortunate to have been in his presence, traveling the world in support of America's interests as we saw it."


"The good news, he is in the hands of the loving God," Graham added. "The bad news, John McCain is giving him an earful about how screwed up things are. Rest in peace, my dear friend."

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