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Lieberman announces presidential bid

Connecticut Democrat ran with Gore in 2000

Sen. Joseph Lieberman promised to
Sen. Joseph Lieberman promised to "restore independence" at the White House.

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CNN's Candy Crowley profiles Senator Joe Lieberman, who announced a bid for the presidency in 2004 (January 13)
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FULL NAME: Joseph Isadore Lieberman

AGE-BIRTH DATE: 60, February 24, 1942

HOME: New Haven, Connecticut

CAREER: 1970-1980, Connecticut State Senate; early 1980s, made unsuccessful bid for Congress. 1982-88, Connecticut attorney general; 1988-, U.S. Senate; 1996-2002, chairman, Democratic Leadership Council; 2000, running mate for Al Gore's presidential campaign. 

FAMILY: Wife, Hadassah; four children, including two from previous marriage and one from wife's previous marriage. Orthodox Jew and considered by some to be "conscience of the Senate."

QUOTE:  "Such behavior is not just inappropriate: It is immoral." -- said of Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky.

STAMFORD, Connecticut (CNN) -- Pledging to be "a different kind of Democrat," Sen. Joseph Lieberman announced Monday he is running for the White House in 2004, and he criticized the Bush administration as a captive of its campaign backers.

Lieberman, 60, was former Vice President Al Gore's running mate in 2000 and the first Jewish politician on a major-party ticket. He announced his candidacy at the high school in Stamford where he served as sophomore and senior class president.

The three-term Connecticut Democrat reminded his audience and potential rivals that he and Gore won the popular vote in 2000 "and actually got more votes than any Democratic ticket in history." He said the Bush administration failed to deliver "a better America."

"We must rise above politics and restore independence to the White House, not compromise our economic or environmental or health security for political contributors or extreme ideologues," he said. "We must rise above partisan politics and stand up for our values here at home, because family and faith and responsibility matter more than power and partisanship and privilege."

Lieberman is perhaps the most conservative of the Democrats who have so far announced plans to run. He co-sponsored the Senate resolution authorizing President Bush to use military action to disarm Iraq; supports the limited, experimental use of vouchers to provide public funds for private school tuition; and touts a pro-business voting record.

"I intend to talk straight to the American people and to show them that I'm a different kind of Democrat," he said. "I will not hesitate to tell my friends when I think they're wrong and to tell my opponents when I think they're right."

The Democratic field currently includes Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts; Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina; former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean; and former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri. Several other Democrats -- Sens. Joseph Biden of Delaware and Bob Graham of Florida, former Sen. Gary Hart of Colorado and New York City civil rights activist Al Sharpton -- have said they are considering running as well.

Lieberman dismissed concerns that his views are too conservative for Democratic primary voters. While agrees "by and large" with Bush's push to disarm Iraq, he said, "I think this is one of those times where you do have to rise above partisanship and put your country's security first." He called the administration's approach to North Korea unclear and inconsistent.

A CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll last week also showed good support for Lieberman among African-American voters. Lieberman spent a lot of time rallying support in black churches during the 2000 campaign, and served as a civil rights activist in Mississippi in the 1960s.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman poses with his wife Hadassah after announcing his presidential bid.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman poses with his wife Hadassah after announcing his presidential bid.

Lieberman had pledged to stay out of the race if Gore mounted another presidential bid, but Gore's decision not to run freed Lieberman to run on his own. His role in the 2000 race gives him strong name recognition and a pool of prospective fund raisers and staff from among former Gore supporters, but he said he has not yet received Gore's endorsement.

"I told Al I didn't expect him to get involved soon," Lieberman said. "We were close friends, and we remain close friends, and I would be honored by his support. But I've got to earn it."

Lieberman is an Orthodox Jew who does not work Saturdays, but he said during the 2000 campaign he would break the Sabbath if there were a crisis.

"I think the American people are too smart and too aware of how tough the times are to judge a candidate for president on anything other than his record, ability and ideas and values for America's future," he said.

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