Joe Lieberman, former vice presidential candidate, dies at 82

Former US Senator and vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman has died at 82.

The cause was complications from a fall, according to a family statement obtained by CBS News, the BBC’s US partner.

The centrist represented the state of Connecticut in the Senate for nearly a quarter of a century.

Mr Lieberman became the first Jewish politician to join a major party US presidential ticket in 2000 when Al Gore selected him as his running mate.

Mr Gore said he was “profoundly saddened” to learn of Mr Lieberman’s passing.

“It was an honour to stand side-by-side with him on the campaign trail,” Mr Gore said in a statement. “I’ll remain forever grateful for his tireless efforts to build a better future for America.”

The long-time politician served as the US senator from Connecticut between 1989 and 2013. He was a powerful legislator and his support was sought after in Washington.

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

A Democrat of long standing, he broke from his party ranks on several issues – including its opposition to the Iraq War. He won his final term in office in 2006 as an independent.

In recent years, he was known as the founding chairman of No Labels, a centrist political group that aimed to establish a third-party presidential ticket for the general election in 2024.

“Senator Lieberman was a singular figure in American political life who always put his country before party,” No Labels said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mr Lieberman made that clear in a recent interview with Bloomberg TV last week.

“Thomas Jefferson once said America will need a little political rebellion every now and then, which should be as important in politics as the storms are in the natural world,” he said.

“And I think he meant to clear away the dead wood, and boy, does our political system need a good storm and a political rebellion right now.”

Mr Lieberman was born in Stamford, Connecticut in 1942, and worked his way through state politics, serving as both a state senator and the state attorney general before launching himself to the US Senate in 1989.

Mr Lieberman was one of the most prominent Jewish politicians in the US during his career. His White House run with Mr Gore was a milestone for Jewish Americans and the former senator was public in the exercise of his faith.

As a moderate Democrat, Mr Lieberman developed a reputation in Washington for crossing party lines – as well as simply crossing members of his own party.

In 2000, Mr Gore selected Mr Lieberman as his running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket. They would go on to lose to Republican George W Bush and his vice-presidential pick, Dick Cheney, in one of the most contentious conclusions to a presidential election in American history.

But by 2008, Mr Lieberman was endorsing a Republican presidential candidate, the US Senator John McCain of Arizona, who was his close friend.

Mr McCain would ultimately lose to Barack Obama, America’s first black president.

As a senator, Mr Lieberman also backed several progressive policies. He notably helped end the Pentagon’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which barred LGBTQ people from openly serving in the military.

“When I look back at my own career, the legislative achievements I am proudest to have been part of… all were achieved only because a critical mass of Democrats and Republicans found common ground,” Mr Lieberman said in his farewell speech from the Senate in December 2012.


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