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Lieberman rips 'greatest obstacle': Washington gridlock

| Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 8:16 p.m.
A still image from Senate TV is of retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman's final Senate floor speech. AP

WASHINGTON — Retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman on Wednesday used his final Senate floor speech to urge Congress to put partisan rancor aside to break Washington's gridlock.

“It requires reaching across the aisle and finding partners from the opposite party,” said Lieberman. “That is what is desperately needed in Washington now.”

The Democrat-turned-independent from Connecticut is leaving the Senate in January at the end of 24 years. He said strong bipartisan leadership is needed to solve the nation's most pressing problems, such as the fiscal cliff budget crisis. Washington gridlock stands as “the greatest obstacle” to finding compromises to make major progress on those problems, he said.

Lieberman, 70, nearly won the vice presidency on the Democratic ticket with running mate Al Gore in 2000. He would have been the first Jewish vice president.

He also made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004. Four years later, he was under serious consideration in 2008 to be then-Republican presidential nominee John McCain's running mate. He and McCain are friends known for their hawkish views on military and national security matters.

Lieberman's independent streak has often rankled Democrats, the party he aligned with in the Senate.

He lost the last time he ran for the Democratic Senate nomination in Connecticut, in 2006. But he rebounded and won a new term running as an independent in a three-way race. After his re-election, Lieberman decided to caucus with Democrats in the Senate, who let him head a committee in return.

Yet in 2008, he supported McCain, drawing the ire of many Democrats. Lieberman's decision to speak at the 2008 GOP presidential nominating convention especially angered Democrats.

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