Joe (Joseph Isadore) Liberman - biography
Joseph Isadore "Joe" Lieberman (born February 24, 1942) is the junior United States Senator from Connecticut. First elected to the Senate in 1988, Lieberman was elected to a fourth term on November 7, 2006. In the 2000 United States presidential election, Lieberman was the Democratic nominee for Vice President, running with presidential nominee Al Gore, becoming the first Jewish candidate on a major American political party presidential ticket. The Gore–Lieberman ticket won the popular vote but ultimately failed to gain the electoral votes needed to win the controversial election. Lieberman ran for re-election to the U.S. Senate while he was also Gore's running mate, and he was re-elected by the voters of Connecticut. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2004 presidential election.
During his re-election bid in 2006, he lost the Democratic Party primary election but won re-election in the general election as a third party candidate under the party label "Connecticut for Lieberman". Lieberman has been officially listed in Senate records for the 110th and 111th Congresses as an "Independent Democrat" and sits as part of the Senate Democratic Caucus. But since his speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention in which he endorsed John McCain for president, Lieberman no longer attends Democratic Caucus leadership strategy meetings or policy lunches.
On November 5, 2008, Lieberman met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to discuss his future role with the Democratic Party. Ultimately, the Senate Democratic Caucus voted to allow Lieberman to keep chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Subsequently, Lieberman announced that he will continue to caucus with the Democrats.
Lieberman remains a registered Democrat. He was one of the Senate's strongest advocates for continued prosecution of the war in Iraq. He is also an outspoken supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship. On domestic issues, he strongly supports free trade economics while reliably voting for pro-trade union legislation. He has also opposed filibustering Republican judicial appointments. With Lynne Cheney and others, Lieberman co-founded American Council of Trustees and Alumni in 1995. Lieberman is a supporter of abortion rights and the rights of gays and lesbians to adopt children and be protected with hate crime legislation. Lieberman is one of the Senate's leading opponents of violence in video games and on television. Lieberman describes himself as being "genuinely an Independent," saying "I agree more often than not with Democrats on domestic policy. I agree more often than not with Republicans on foreign and defense policy."Lieberman's approval rating in a poll in Connecticut taken January 4–5, 2010, was 25% approval versus 67% who disapproved, which made him one of the least popular Senators currently in office.
Lieberman was born in Stamford, Connecticut, the son of Marcia (née Manger) and Henry Lieberman. He received a dual Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics from Yale University in 1964 and was the first member of his family to graduate from college. At Yale he was editor of the Yale Daily News and a member of the Elihu Club. He later attended Yale Law School, receiving his law degree in 1967. After graduation from law school, Lieberman worked as a lawyer for the New Haven-based law firm Wiggin & Dana LLP.
A spokesperson told The Hartford Courant in 1994 that Lieberman received an educational deferment from the Vietnam War draft when he was an undergraduate and law student from 1960 to 1967. Upon graduating from law school at age 25, Lieberman qualified for a family deferment because he was already married and had one child, Matt.
Lieberman met his first wife, Betty Haas, at the congressional office of Senator Abraham Ribicoff (D-CT), where they worked as summer student interns. They married in 1965 while Joe Lieberman was in law school. They had two children – Matt and Rebecca. Betty, who is also Jewish, later worked as a psychiatric social worker. In 1981, the couple divorced. When asked about the divorce in an interview with New York Magazine, Lieberman said, "one of the differences we had was in levels of religious observance," adding, "I'm convinced if that was the only difference, we wouldn't have gotten divorced."
In 1982, he met his second wife, Hadassah Freilich Tucker, while he was running for Attorney General of Connecticut. Hadassah Lieberman is the child of a Holocaust survivor. According to Washington Jewish Week, Lieberman called her for a date because he thought it would be interesting to go out with someone named Hadassah. (Hadassah is the name of the Women's Zionist Organization of America). Since March 2005, Hadassah Lieberman has worked for Hill & Knowlton, a lobbying firm based in New York City, as a senior counselor in its health and pharmaceuticals practice. She has held senior positions at the Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven, the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO), Pfizer, National Research Council, Hoffmann-La Roche, and Lehman Brothers.
Joe and Hadassah Lieberman have a daughter, Hani. Lieberman also has a stepson from Hadassah's previous marriage, Ethan Tucker. Matt Lieberman graduated from Yale University in 1989, and from Yale Law School in 1994. He is former Head of School of Greenfield Hebrew Academy in Atlanta, GA. Rebecca Lieberman graduated from Barnard College in 1991, and from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1997. She is married to Jacob Wisse. Ethan Tucker, son of Gordon Tucker, graduated from Harvard College in 1997 and received his rabbinic ordination from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. Lieberman is also related to Disney Channel star Raviv Ullman of Phil of the Future.
Lieberman describes himself as an "observant" Jew. In 1965 he married Betty Haas, a Reform Jew. Since the death in 1967 of Lieberman's grandmother, a deeply religious immigrant, he found renewed interest in religious observance. His second wife, Hadassah, is also an observant Orthodox Jew. "Hadassah calls herself my right wing," says Lieberman. In Lieberman's 1988 upset of Republican Party incumbent Senator Lowell Weicker, his religious observance was mostly viewed in terms of inability to campaign on Shabbat. This changed when Gore chose Lieberman as the running mate; a Lieberman press officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said:
"He refers to himself as observant, as opposed to Orthodox, because he doesn't follow the strict Orthodox code and doesn't want to offend the Orthodox, and his wife feels the same way."
The Liebermans keep a kosher home and observe Shabbat, but do not adhere fully to the requirements of Halakha.
Lieberman has said that there is currently "a constitutional place for faith in our public life", and that the Constitution does not provide for "freedom from religion." He attends Kesher Israel Congregation in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. and Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol - B'nai Israel, The Westville Synagogue, New Haven, Connecticut. He also attends Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford.
He was the first observant Jew to run on a major party Presidential ticket. (1964 Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater's father was Jewish, but Sen. Goldwater's mother was an Episcopalian, and the Senator practiced his mother's faith.)
Early political career
Lieberman was elected as a "reform Democrat" to the Connecticut Senate in 1970, where he served for 10 years, including the last six as Majority Leader. He suffered his first defeat in Connecticut elections in the Reagan landslide year of 1980, losing the race for the Third District Congressional seat to Republican Lawrence Joseph DeNardis, a state senator from suburban Hamden with whom he had worked closely on bipartisan legislative efforts. In 1981 he wrote an admiring biography of long-time Connecticut and national Democratic leader John Moran Bailey, reviewing also in the book the previous 50 years of Connecticut political history. From 1983 to 1989, he served as Connecticut Attorney General and emphasized consumer protection and environmental enforcement.
In 1988, Lieberman defeated moderate Republican Lowell Weicker to win election to the United States Senate and was re-elected in 1994 and 2000. Like Bill Clinton and Dick Gephardt, Lieberman served as chair of the Democratic Leadership Council. Lieberman was first elected to the United States Senate as a Democrat in the 1988 election, by a margin of 10,000 votes. He scored the nation's biggest political upset that year, after being backed by a coalition of Democrats and unaffiliated voters with support from conservative Republicans, who were disappointed in three-term Republican incumbent Lowell Weicker's moderate voting record and personal style. During the campaign, he received support from the Connecticut's Cuban-American community which was unhappy with Weicker. Lieberman has since remained firmly anti-Castro. Six years later, Lieberman made history by winning by the largest landslide ever in a Connecticut Senate race, drawing 67 percent of the vote and beating his opponent by more than 350,000 votes.
In 1998, Lieberman was the first prominent Democrat to publicly challenge Bill Clinton for the judgment exercised in his affair with Monica Lewinsky. However, he voted against removing Clinton from office by impeachment. In 2000, while concurrently running for the vice presidency, Lieberman was elected to a third Senate term with 64 percent of the vote easily defeating the Republican Philip Giordano. When control of the Senate switched from Republicans to Democrats in June 2001, Lieberman became Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, with oversight responsibilities for a broad range of government activities. He was also a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and chair of its Subcommittee Clean Air, Wetlands and Private Property; the Armed Services Committee, where he chaired the Airland Subcommittee and sat on the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities; and the Small Business Committee. When Republicans gained control of the Senate in January 2003, Lieberman resumed his role as ranking minority member of the committees he had once chaired.
In the 110th Congress, Lieberman is Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which is responsible for assuring the efficiency and effectiveness of the Federal Government. In addition, he is a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee; Senate Armed Services Committee, where he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Air Land Forces and sits on the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities; and the Small Business Committee.
Since 1989, Lieberman has received more than $31.4 million in campaign donations from specific industries and sectors. His largest donors have represented the securities and investment ($3.7 million), legal ($3.6 million), real estate ($3.1 million) and health professional ($1.1 million) industries.
- Committee on Armed Services
- Subcommittee on Airland (Chairman)
- Subcommittee on Personnel
- Subcommittee on SeaPower
- Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (Chairman)
- Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
2000 VP campaign
In August 2000, Lieberman was selected as the nominee for Vice President of the United States by Al Gore, the Democratic Party nominee for President. Lieberman was the first Jewish candidate on a major political party ticket. The announcement of Lieberman's selection was unusual in that it did not cause a positive "bump" in the Gore campaign's poll numbers according to a Newsweek poll done at the time.
Polling also indicated that Lieberman had badly lost his televised debate against Dick Cheney, leading some to suggest later that Gore had lost the election due to choosing Lieberman as his running mate.
The Gore/Lieberman ticket won a plurality of the popular vote, with over half a million more votes than the Republican ticket of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, but they were defeated in the Electoral College by a vote of 271 to 266.
Like Democratic VP candidates Lyndon B. Johnson in 1960, Lloyd Bentsen in 1988, John Edwards in 2004, and Joe Biden in 2008, Lieberman's Senate term was due to expire during the election cycle. He decided to run for reelection to maintain his seat, as Johnson, Bentsen and Biden did. All four won, but since Johnson and Biden were also elected Vice-President, they gave up their seats.
On January 13, 2003, Lieberman announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination as a candidate in the 2004 presidential election.
Describing his Presidential hopes, Lieberman opined that his historically hawkish stance would appeal to voters. Indeed he initially led in polls of primaries, but due to his political positions he failed to win a support of liberal Democratic voters, who dominated the primaries.
Prior to his defeat in New Hampshire, Lieberman famously declared his campaign was picking up "Joementum"; however, he failed to provide such momentum during the New Hampshire Primary debates, held at Saint Anselm College days before the primary. On February 3, 2004, Lieberman withdrew his candidacy after failing to win any of the five primaries or two caucuses held that day. He acknowledged to the Hartford Courant that his support for the war in Iraq was a large part of his undoing with voters.
Lieberman's former running candidate Al Gore did not support Lieberman's Presidential run, and in December 2003 endorsed Howard Dean's candidacy, saying "This is about all of us and all of us need to get behind the strongest candidate [Dean]."
Finally Lieberman withdrew from the race without winning a single contest. In total popular vote he placed 7th behind eventual nominee, Massachusetts senator John Kerry, future Vice Presidential nominee, North Carolina Senator John Edwards, former Governor of Vermont Howard Dean, Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich, retired General Wesley Clark and Reverend Al Sharpton.
On December 17, 2007, Lieberman endorsed Republican Senator John McCain for president in 2008, contradicting his stance in July 2006 where he stated "I want Democrats to be back in the majority in Washington and elect a Democratic president in 2008." Lieberman cited his agreement with McCain's stance on the War on Terrorism as the primary reason for the endorsement.
On June 5, Lieberman launched "Citizens for McCain," hosted on the McCain campaign website, to recruit Democratic support for John McCain's candidacy. He emphasized the group's outreach to supporters of Hillary Clinton, who was at that time broadly expected to lose the Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama. Citizens for McCain was prominently featured in McCain team efforts to attract disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters such as Debra Bartoshevich.
Lieberman spoke at the 2008 Republican National Convention on behalf of McCain and his running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Lieberman was alongside McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham during a visit to French president Nicolas Sarkozy on March 21, 2008. Lieberman was mentioned as a possible Vice Presidential nominee on a McCain ticket, although Lieberman had denied interest. ABC News reported that Lieberman was McCain's first choice for Vice President until several days before the selection, when McCain had decided that picking Lieberman would alienate the conservative base of the Republican Party. Lieberman had been mentioned as a possible Secretary of State under a McCain administration.
Many Democrats wanted Lieberman to be stripped of his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs due to his support for John McCain. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reached out to Lieberman, asking him to caucus with the Republicans. Ultimately, the Senate Democratic Caucus voted 42 to 13 to allow Lieberman to keep chairmanship (although he did lose his membership for the Environment and Public Works Committee). Subsequently, Lieberman announced that he will continue to caucus with the Democrats. Lieberman credited President-elect Barack Obama for helping him keep his chairmanship. Obama had privately urged Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid not to remove Lieberman from his position. Reid stated that Lieberman's criticism of Obama during the election angered him, but that "if you look at the problems we face as a nation, is this a time we walk out of here saying, 'Boy did we get even'?" Senator Tom Carper of Delaware also credited the Democrats' decision on Lieberman to Obama's support, stating that "If Barack can move on, so can we."
Liberal members of the Democratic caucus were reportedly angry at the decision to not punish Lieberman more severely. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (who is also an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats) stated that he voted against Lieberman "because while millions of people worked hard for Obama, Lieberman actively worked for four more years of President Bush's policies."
Lieberman's embrace of certain conservative policies and in particular his endorsement of John McCain have been cited as factors for his low approval rating in Connecticut: 38 approval to 54 disapproval. "This is the highest disapproval rating in any Quinnipiac University poll in any state for a sitting U.S. Senator — except for New Jersey's Robert Torricelli, just before he resigned in 2002. Among those who say they voted for Sen. Lieberman in 2006, 30 percent now say they would vote for someone else if they could."
2006 Senate election
Lieberman sought the Democratic Party's renomination for U.S. Senate from Connecticut in 2006 but lost to Ned Lamont, a Greenwich businessman and antiwar candidate. Lieberman was officially endorsed by the Connecticut Democratic Convention, which met in May. However, Lamont received 33 percent of the delegates' votes, forcing an August primary.
In July, Lieberman announced that he would file papers to appear on the November ballot should he lose the primary, stating, "I'm a loyal Democrat, but I have loyalties that are greater than those to my party, and that's my loyalty to my state and my country." He stated that he would continue to sit as a Democrat in the Senate even if he was defeated in the primary and elected on an unaffiliated line, and expressed concern for a potentially low turnout. On July 10, the Lieberman campaign officially filed paperwork allowing him to collect signatures for the newly formed Connecticut for Lieberman party ballot line.
Wikinews has related news: Lieberman loses to Lamont in Connecticut primary On August 8, 2006, Lieberman conceded the Democratic primary election to Ned Lamont, saying, "For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot and will not let that result stand," and announced he would run in the 2006 November election as an independent candidate on the Connecticut for Lieberman ticket, against both Lamont and the Republican candidate, Alan Schlesinger.
Lieberman during his re-election campaign on a third party ticket Polls after the primary showed Lieberman ahead of Ned Lamont by 5 points. Later polls showed Lieberman leading by varying margins. Alan Schlesinger barely registered support and his campaign had run into problems based on alleged gambling debts.
On August 9, 2006, Hillary Clinton affirmed her pledge to support the primary winner, saying "voters of Connecticut have made their decision and I think that decision should be respected", and Howard Dean called for Lieberman to quit the race, saying he was being "disrespectful of Democrats and disrespectful of the Democratic Party".
On August 10, in his first campaign appearance since losing the Democratic primary, referencing the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot, Lieberman criticized Lamont, saying:
“ If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out [of Iraq] by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England. It will strengthen them and they will strike again. ”
Lamont noted Lieberman's position was similar to George W. Bush's and Dick Cheney's position. Lamont said, “That comment sounds an awful lot like Vice President Cheney’s comment on Wednesday. Both of them believe our invasion of Iraq has a lot to do with 9/11. That’s a false premise.” Lieberman's communications director replied that Lamont was politicizing national security by "portraying [Lieberman] as a soul mate of President Bush on Iraq".
On August 17, 2006 the National Republican Senatorial Committee stated that they would favor a Lieberman victory in the November election over Democratic nominee Ned Lamont. The NRSC did state, however, that they were not going so far as to actually support Lieberman.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani praised Lieberman at a South Carolina campaign stop on August 18, saying he was "a really exceptional senator." Other Republican supporters of Lieberman included Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, former Representative and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Jack Kemp, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Five Democratic Senators maintained their support for Lieberman, and Lieberman also received the strong support of former Senator and Democratic stalwart Bob Kerrey, who offered to stump for him. Democratic minority leader Harry Reid, while endorsing Lamont, promised Lieberman that he would retain his committee positions and seniority if he prevailed in the general election.
On August 28, Lieberman campaigned at the same motorcycle rally as Republican Congressman Christopher Shays. Shays told a crowd of motorcycle enthusiasts, "We have a national treasure in Joe Lieberman."
Mel Sembler, a former Republican National Committee finance chairman, helped organize a reception that raised a "couple hundred thousand dollars" for Lieberman, who was personally in attendance. Sembler is a prominent Republican who chaired I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby's legal defense fund. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a fundraiser for Lieberman at his home in November, co-hosted by former mayor Ed Koch and former Senator Alfonse M. D'Amato. Koch called Lieberman "one of the greatest Senators we've ever had in the Senate."
Despite still considering himself a Democrat, Lieberman was endorsed by numerous Republicans who actively spoke out in favor of his candidacy. Lieberman was also the focus of websites such as ConservativesforLieberman06.com.
On November 7, Lieberman won re-election with 49.7% of the vote. Ned Lamont garnered 40% of ballots cast and Alan Schlesinger won 10%. Lieberman received support from 33% of Democrats, 54% of independents and 70% of Republicans.
Following the election, Lieberman struck a deal with Democratic leadership allowing him to keep his seniority and chairmanship of the Governmental Affairs Committee. In return, he agreed to vote with the Democrats on all procedural matters unless he asked permission of Majority Whip Richard Durbin. He is free to vote as he pleases on policy matters. Along with Bernie Sanders, Lieberman's caucusing with the Democrats gave them a 51-49 majority in the Senate, leaving a slim one Senator majority to control the Senate in the 110th Congress.