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Former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman dies at 82

Former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman speaks at an event in Ashraf-3 camp, which is a base for the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK) in Manza

(Reuters) -Former U.S. senator and Democratic Party vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman died on Wednesday at age 82 in New York City after suffering complications from a fall, his family said.

"His beloved wife, Hadassah, and members of his family were with him when he passed," the statement said. "Senator Lieberman's love of God, his family and America endured throughout his life of service in the public interest."

Lieberman was the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee in the 2000 election, which was won by Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore. Lieberman was the first Jewish candidate on a major party presidential ticket in the U.S.

He failed in a bid for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, hurt by his support for the Iraq War.

"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," Gore said in a statement.

"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," Gore said.

A centrist, Lieberman was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1988. He lost the state's Democratic primary in 2006, but retained his seat by winning the general election as an independent candidate.

In a further break from the Democratic Party, Lieberman endorsed Republican Senator John McCain for president in a speech at the Republican National Convention in 2008.

But Lieberman would later back Democrats Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020 in their bids for the presidency.

Lieberman retired from the Senate in 2013 after four six-year terms.

"Joe was as fine an American as they come and one of the most decent people I met during my time in Washington," Republican former President George W. Bush said in a statement.

Most recently, Lieberman was leading No Labels, a centrist group that hopes to launch an outsider bid for the White House.

In a recent Reuters interview, Lieberman discussed the effort and how it at times felt like building a plane in midair.

"We're doing something that I think hasn’t been done before. We are on the ground getting on the ballot and going to let a candidate emerge and take on the rest," Lieberman said.

"That’s quite different. So, frankly, there was no choice but to build a plane and fly it while it was being built. And I'm very grateful to how far we've come under those circumstances,” he said.

Lieberman, who held a law degree from Yale Law School, was a member of the Connecticut State Senate and then attorney general of Connecticut before becoming a U.S. senator.

Lieberman had three children from two marriages; his first marriage ended in divorce.

Lieberman's funeral was set for Friday in his hometown of Stamford, Connecticut.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb, Jarrett Renshaw, Steve Holland and Eric Beech; editing by David Ljunggren and Leslie Adler)