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Joe Lieberman, longtime senator and 2000 vice presidential nominee, dies at 82

Joe Lieberman dies at 82
Joe Lieberman, former senator and vice presidential candidate, dies at 82 01:48

Washington — Joe Lieberman, a longtime senator from Connecticut who was the Democratic Party's nominee for vice president in 2000, died Wednesday in New York City. He was 82.

Lieberman, who served in the upper chamber from 1989 to 2013, died from complications from a fall, according to a statement from his family.

"His beloved wife, Hadassah, and members of his family were with him as he passed," the statement said. "Senator Lieberman's love of God, his family, and America endured throughout his life of service in the public interest."

Election 2024 No Labels
No Labels Founding Chairman and former Sen. Joe Lieberman speaks about the 2024 election at National Press Club, in Washington, on Jan. 18, 2024. Jose Luis Magana / AP

Lieberman was Al Gore's running mate in 2000, when he became the first Jewish candidate on a major political party ticket. The pair lost against George W. Bush and Dick Cheney when the Supreme Court controversially halted a ballot recount in Florida. 

Over the next several years he broke from his fellow Democrats on a number of issues, most notably his support for the Iraq War. In 2004, he mounted an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for president. He won his final term in the Senate as an independent in 2006. The late Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, considered naming Lieberman as his running mate in the 2008 presidential election. 

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who was close with both Lieberman and McCain, said he would share more thoughts about his friend soon, and had learned of his death as he was leaving Israel. 

"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," he said in a statement, signed "From the Last Amigo." 

Lieberman was also a founding chairman of No Labels, a centrist political group that is trying to lay the groundwork for a third-party presidential "unity ticket" in 2024. 

In an interview with Bloomberg TV last week about potential No Labels candidates, Lieberman said the group was "still in pursuit of a couple of really good candidates" and expected a decision would be made in the next two or three weeks. 

"I have a lot of admiration and certainly affection for Joe Biden, but I think unfortunately, he has been dragged to the left along with the Democratic Party, which is now disproportionately influenced by the left wing of the party," he said. "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. 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. Hopefully we can give our voters that choice this fall." 

In a statement, No Labels said Lieberman was the "moral center" of the movement and called his death unexpected. 

"Senator Lieberman's legislative record — as impressive as it is — can't begin to tell the story of his impact on America's public life," the group said. "He was a man of uncommon integrity who did the right things for the right reasons. As American politics became progressively coarser and angrier, Senator Lieberman was unfailingly civil and decent to political allies and opponents alike." 

Former Senator Joe Lieberman on "The Takeout" — 1/29/2021 46:35

Condolences came from around the world and across the political spectrum. 

"Joe Lieberman and I didn't always see eye-to-eye, but he had an extraordinary career in public service, including four decades spent fighting for the people of Connecticut," former President Barack Obama wrote on social media. "He also worked hard to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and helped us pass the Affordable Care Act. In both cases the politics were difficult, but he stuck to his principles because he knew it was the right thing to do. Michelle and I extend our deepest condolences to Hadassah and the Lieberman family."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called him "an extraordinarily kind and loyal personal friend." Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said Lieberman "not only was one of the best legislators I have ever known, but also one of the best human beings." 

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut called Lieberman "one of one." 

"Connecticut is shocked by Senator Lieberman's sudden passing. In an era of political carbon copies, Joe Lieberman was a singularity," Murphy wrote on social media. "He fought and won for what he believed was right and for the state he adored." 

His funeral will be held Friday at Congregation Agudath Sholom in his hometown of Stamford. A memorial service is expected at a later date. 

Alan He contributed reporting. 

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