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CANDIDATES / JOSEPH LIEBERMAN
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UPDATE: Joseph Lieberman dropped out of the race on February 3, 2004.

Name: Joseph Isadore Lieberman
Birth date: February 24, 1942
Education: Bachelor's degree, Yale University, 1964; law degree, Yale University, 1967
Career: Attorney, 1967-1970
Elected office Connecticut state senator, 1971-1981; Connecticut attorney general, 1983-1989; elected U.S. senator, 1988; Democratic nominee for vice president, 2000
Family: Wife Hadassah Lieberman; four children, including two from his previous marriage and one from his wife's previous marriage, and three granddaughters
Quote: "I share the anger, but, ultimately, to govern this country, it takes more than anger. It takes experience. It takes positions that reflect the best values of the American people."
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Lieberman aims for the Democratic center

(CNN) -- Four years after being introduced to millions of U.S. voters as Al Gore's running mate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman is seeking the top spot on the Democratic presidential ticket.

In more than three decades in politics, the last 14 years in the U.S. Senate, Lieberman has established himself as a centrist politician willing to work across party lines.

The Connecticut senator has aimed some of the 2004 presidential season's harshest language at elements of his own party, saying Democrats "don't deserve to run the country" if they move left and embrace "the failed solutions of the past."

Such strong rhetoric, however, runs counter to the civil demeanor Lieberman has demonstrated in Washington and as a vice presidential candidate.

Joseph Lieberman was born February 24, 1942, to two first-generation Americans in Stamford, Connecticut. He attended public schools in that southeastern New England city while his father lived his American dream, rising from working on a bakery truck to owning a liquor store.

In 1960, Lieberman became the first member of his family to attend college by enrolling at Yale University in nearby New Haven -- the alma mater of President George W. Bush and fellow Democratic presidential contenders Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

Lieberman earned his undergraduate degree in 1964, and graduated from Yale Law School three years later. He embraced liberal ideals in his trips outside New Haven, joining Martin Luther King Jr., in the 1963 March on Washington and helping African Americans register to vote in Mississippi.

In 1970, Lieberman won his first election -- a Connecticut state senate race. He remained in the seat for 10 years, the last six as the chamber's majority leader.

Lieberman made his first attempt for a Washington office in 1980, but he lost a bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives as Ronald Reagan swept into the White House with a flock of Republicans riding his coattails into the House and Senate.

He regained his political footing two years later, winning his first statewide election to become Connecticut's attorney general. In the post, Lieberman targeted "deadbeat dads" who avoided paying child support, dumpers of toxic waste and corporate fraud.

In 1988, he fought to unseat three-term Republican Sen. Lowell Weicker, eking out a victory by just 10,000 votes. Six years later, Lieberman took an easier and more impressive 67 percent of the vote in his successful re-election campaign.

Lieberman is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and is a member of the Environment and Public Works, Armed Services and Small Business committees.

Even as a former chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, Lieberman consistently has stressed his political independence. This trait surfaced prominently in President Clinton's sex scandal, when Lieberman slammed the commander-in-chief's conduct as disgraceful and damaging to the country in a speech from the Senate floor.

"The president's relationship with Ms. Lewinsky not only contradicted the values he has publicly embraced over the last six years, it has, I fear, compromised his moral authority at a time when Americans of every political persuasion agree that the decline of the family is one of the most pressing problems we are facing," he said.

Lieberman's national profile swelled when Gore, Clinton's vice president and the Democratic Party's 2000 presidential nominee, tapped the senator as the vice presidential nominee. The move made the Stamford native the first Jewish person to be nominated for that office.

That year, Lieberman ran two campaigns: one for the vice presidency, the other for a third Senate term. While a Supreme Court decision expedited the end of his vice presidential bid, Lieberman earned a Senate victory and returned to Capitol Hill.

After a period of bipartisanship, Lieberman criticized the Bush White House for its ties to Enron, questionable political fund-raising and conflicts of interest. But unlike several Democratic presidential contenders, he backed the Bush administration on many controversial issues, including the war in Iraq, pro-business initiatives and homeland security.

"If we're for middle-class tax increases, if we send a message of weakness and ambivalence on defense, if we go back to big government spending, if we're against trade [and] for protectionism -- which never created a job -- we're ... not going to be able to meet the challenges that America faces today," Lieberman told Fox News in August.

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