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Sen. Joseph Lieberman

Gore's VP choice brings moral compass and rectitude

by Beth Rowen

This article was posted on August 8, 2000.

Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, left, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., wave to the crowd on Aug. 8, 2000, for a rally announcing Lieberman as Gore's running mate.

Vital Statistics

Joseph Isadore Lieberman

  • BORN: Feb. 24, 1942, Stamford, Conn.
  • EDUCATION: Stamford High School; B.A., L.L.B., Yale.
  • CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 1971-81, Connecticut state senator; 1975-81, State Senate majority leader; 1983-89, Connecticut attorney general; 1989-present, United States senator from Connecticut; committee member, Armed Services, Environment and Public Works, Small Business, Governmental Affairs; 1999-present, ranking Democrat, Governmental Affairs Committee; 1995-present, chairman, Democratic Leadership Council. Author of five books, most recently, In Praise of Public Life.

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In choosing Sen. Joseph Lieberman as his running mate, Vice President Al Gore has essentially followed Gov. George W. Bush's lead and named a No. 2 who could shore up his weaknesses and broaden his appeal to swing voters.

Just as Bush selected Dick Cheney as his running mate to lend gravitas to the ticket, Gore picked Lieberman for his strong moral compass and rectitude. The move clearly signals an attempt by Gore to distance himself from President Clinton's scandal-ridden presidency. It's a fine line for Gore to walk, as he has clearly taken some credit for the prosperity of the Clinton years.

"Conscience of the Senate"

Lieberman, who has been called the "conscience of the Senate," was outspoken in his criticism of President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. He voted against both articles of impeachment, however.

"Such behavior is not just inappropriate—it is immoral," Lieberman said of the affair. "It is harmful, for it sends a message of what is acceptable behavior to the larger American family."

In another break with President Clinton and Gore, Lieberman, who's chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, has been an advocate of campaign finance reform and a ban on soft money.

Independent Thinker

Fiercely independent, Lieberman answers only to his own principles and has broken ranks with the party, defending school vouchers and a capital gains tax cut and joining former Secretary of Education William Bennett in his crusade against violent and sexually explicit movies, television shows, and recordings.

While Lieberman has been to the right of Gore on several social issues, he shares the vice president's views on the environment, abortion, gun control, and civil rights. Both men supported U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf War, as well as sending American troops to Bosnia. Lieberman also favors free trade and supports permanent normal trading relations with China.

First Jew on a Party Ticket

Lieberman is the first Jew on the ticket of a national party. An Orthodox Jew, Lieberman observes the Sabbath, which prevents him from working or riding in vehicles from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.

A lifelong Democrat, Lieberman was born on Feb. 24, 1942 in Stamford, Connecticut, to Henry and Marcia (Manger) Lieberman. He graduated from Yale in 1964 and earned a law degree from Yale in 1967. (Gov. Bush graduated from Yale in 1968, and Cheney also briefly studied there.)

As a college student, he did two summer internships in Washington, working for Connecticut's Sen. Abraham Ribicoff and the Democratic National Committee. He practiced law for a few years before being elected to the Connecticut State Senate in 1970. He served for 10 years, serving as majority leader for six years. He lost a 1980 bid for Congress, but was elected attorney general of Connecticut in 1982 and was reelected in 1986. In 1988 he unseated Republican Sen. Lowell Weicker, Jr., and won reelection in 1994. He's running simultaneously for his third term and vice president. Connecticut law permits him to run for both offices.

He has written five books, including The Scorpian and the Tarantula and In Praise of Public Life. He's married to Hadassah (Freilich) Lieberman. They have one child, Hana, 12. He has two children from a previous marriage, Matthew, 32, and Rebecca, 31. Hadassah has a son, Ethan, 24, from her first marriage.




Did you know?  In Feb. 1918, over the course of just 12 hours, the temperature in Granville, N.D., rose 83 degrees, from -33°F to 50°F.

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