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Wednesday, 16 August, 2000, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Joe Lieberman: Moral crusader

Joseph Lieberman's nomination as Al Gore's running mate makes him the first Jew ever to run on a US presidential ticket.

The 58-year-old senator for Connecticut is one of Congress's most respected members and is known as a Washington insider.


Such behaviour is not just inappropriate, it is immoral. And it is harmful, for it sends a message of what is acceptable

Joseph Lieberman on the Clinton-Lewinsky affair
He described the invitation to serve as the running mate to Al Gore in November's election as a "miracle".

Mr Lieberman is perhaps best known for being among the first congressional Democrats to attack President Clinton publicly on the senate floor, for his role in the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Liberal reformer

Joseph Lieberman was born in Stamford, Connecticut on 24 February, 1942, and attended Yale College and Law School.

A Democratic centrist, he has been senator for Connecticut since 1988, and spent the five years before that as the state's attorney-general.

Gore and Lieberman
Lieberman said the invitation to be Gore's running mate was a "miracle"
During that post, and earlier as a state senator in Connecticut, Mr Lieberman built a reputation as a liberal reformer and consumer champion.

His role as chairman of the moderate Democratic Leadership Council, has led to the election of many centrist democrats into public office under his "New Democrat" campaign slogan.

More recently, he has styled himself as a moral crusader, featuring prominently in a campaign to name and shame producers of sexually explicit and violent films and other media.

Mr Lieberman's critics attack him for his stance on abortion rights, gun control and tax rises.

Colleagues in the Democratic Party, however, say he is more conservative when it comes to issues such as defence spending and family values - which could help to win over wavering Republicans.

In the US Senate, Mr Lieberman is a member of the powerful Armed Services Committee, the Environment and Public Works Committee, the Small Business Committee, and the Governmental Affairs Committee. In 1999, he became the ranking Democrat on the Governmental Affairs Committee.

On foreign affairs, he is a strong supporter of Israel and favours Normal Trading Rights with China. He co-authored the Gulf War Resolution and rallied support in Congress to stop the genocide in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Sabbatarian

But it is perhaps the fact that Mr Lieberman is an Orthodox Jew - rather than his age, experience or political leaning - which is attracting the most interest.

Joseph Lieberman
Lieberman: First Jewish vice-presidential candidate
Not since John F Kennedy was elected as America's first Catholic president has religion been such an issue in a White House race.

Both the senator and his wife, Hadassah, observe the Jewish Sabbath, ostensibly prohibiting him from working from dusk on Friday to dusk on Saturday.

He has said he will vote on legislation and participate in important meetings during that time - but will not campaign, unless it is to promote "the respect and protection of human life and well-being".

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