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Former Senator Joe Lieberman dies at 82

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(NEW YORK) — Former Sen. Joe Lieberman has died, his family announced Wednesday. He was 82 years old.

Lieberman died in New York City “due to complications from a fall,” his family said in a statement.

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

Lieberman, a prominent Jewish politician who represented Connecticut, was Al Gore’s running mate on the Democratic ticket in 2000. A political maverick who ultimately became an independent, he also nearly joined former Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain’s presidential ticket as his running mate. The two were friends and were both defense hawks, advocating for a muscular U.S. posture abroad.

Lieberman became a player on the political scene again in recent years as the founding chair of the No Labels party, which is weighing launching a “unity ticket” in this year’s presidential race, though no major candidates have said they plan to join.

Lieberman “meant so much to so many,” No Labels said in a statement following his passing. “He was a beloved husband, father and grandfather. He was a senator and a statesman. He was the founding chairman and moral center of the No Labels movement.

“His unexpected passing is a profound loss for all of us,” the statement continued.

“Senator Lieberman was a singular figure in American political life who always put his country before party. He was a deeply principled and pragmatic leader who believed public service was a privilege and who dedicated his life to the betterment of others. As a four-term senator, he led passage of transformative bipartisan legislation that made America’s air and water cleaner, that made us safer after 9/11, and that expanded equality and opportunity for all,” the statement continued, in part.

“Senator Lieberman leaves behind a void that cannot be filled,” No Labels added. “But we are honored to have known him and we hope his family can find comfort in the difficult days ahead knowing the tremendous impact that he had.”

Lieberman’s funeral will be held Friday at Congregation Agudath Sholom in his hometown of Stamford, his family said.

Lieberman’s former running mate, Al Gore, released a statement on X saying he was “profoundly saddened.”

“I am profoundly saddened by the loss of Joe Lieberman. First and foremost, he was a man of devout faith and dedication to his family,” Gore’s statement read.

“Joe was a man of deep integrity who dedicated his life to serving his country. He was a truly gifted leader, whose affable personality and strong will made him a force to be reckoned with. That’s why it came as no surprise to any of us who knew him when he’d start singing his favorite song: Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way.’ And doing things Joe’s way meant always putting his country and the values of equality and fairness first.

“His fierce dedication to these values was clear even as a young man. When he was about to travel to the South to join the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, he wrote: ‘I am going because there is much work to be done. I am an American. And this is one nation, or it is nothing.’ Those are the words of a champion of civil rights and a true patriot, which is why I shared that quote when I announced Joe as my running mate.

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

Former President George W. Bush released a statement, calling Lieberman “one of the most decent people” he met in Washington.

“Laura and I are saddened by the loss of Joe Lieberman. Joe was as fine an American as they come and one of the most decent people I met during my time in Washington,” his statement read. “As a Democrat, Joe wasn’t afraid to engage with Senators from across the aisle and worked hard to earn votes from outside his party. He engaged in serious and thoughtful debate with opposing voices on important issues. And in both loss and victory, Joe Lieberman was always a gentleman. I’m grateful for Joe’s principled service to our country and for the dignity and patriotism he brought to public life. As Laura and I pray for Hadassah and the Lieberman family, we also pray that Joe’s example of decency guides our Nation’s leaders now and into the future.”

In a statement on X, former President Barack Obama expressed his condolences.

“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. 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,” his statement read.

Connecticut lawmakers honored Lieberman after news of his death broke.

“Connecticut is shocked by Senator Lieberman’s sudden passing. In an era of political carbon copies, Joe Lieberman was a singularity. One of one. He fought and won for what he believed was right and for the state he adored. My thoughts are with Hadassah and the entire family,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“On world and national stages, he helped to define and frame an era of history,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in a statement. “He was a fierce advocate, a man of deep conscience and conviction, and a courageous leader who sought to bridge gaps and bring people together. He was dedicated to family and faith, and he was a role model of public service. He never ceased listening to both friends and adversaries. He leaves an enduring legacy as a fighter for consumers, environmental values, civil rights, and other great causes of our time and he was tireless in working for Connecticut no matter how far or high he went.”

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, who beat Lieberman in the 2006 Senate Democratic primary but then lost to him in the general election when Lieberman ran as an independent, said they had ideological differences but honored Lieberman as “a man of integrity and conviction” and that “we stayed in touch as friends in the best traditions of American democracy” after their race was over.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called his longtime friend’s passing “devastatingly sad.”

“Just heard of my dear friend Joe Lieberman’s passing. As I am just now leaving Israel, so many emotions. 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,” Graham said in a statement.

“To Hadassah, I know your heart is broken, but please understand your legion of friends love you dearly. To the Lieberman family, we will be with you through this journey. I look forward to sharing more thoughts about this wonderful man and the incredible life he lived.

“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,” Graham said, adding: “Rest in peace, my dear friend. From the Last Amigo.”

Lieberman was the first Jewish American on a major party’s presidential ticket and was known for his Jewish observance.

“Sen. Joe Lieberman was a true trailblazer, and represented the hopes, aspirations, and ideals of the Jewish community in the United States,” the Jewish Federations of North America wrote on X. “As the first member of the Jewish community to run on a major party presidential ticket, he broke barriers and showed us what was possible, and always did so while holding strong to his values and moral outlook. Jewish Federations mourn his passing, and our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

The National Council of Jewish Women also mourned the loss of Lieberman, writing on X: “A trailblazer as the first Jewish candidate on the national ticket of a major party, he championed abortion access, LGBTQ+ equality and gun safety. Our communities are safer because of his leadership. May his memory be for a blessing.”

“Joe Lieberman was a true mensch and a great American,” former Sen. Norm Coleman, chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said in a statement. “Time and again, Senator Lieberman put principle over politics. He was a shining example of all that’s good and decent about public service. And he was a committed and proud Jew who served his country with distinction… I am proud to have known Joe and the Republican Jewish Coalition was proud to work with him over the years.”

ABC News’ Rick Klein, Kelsey Walsh, Mariam Khan and Oren Oppenheim contributed to this report.

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