Gore names Lieberman as running mate

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Al Gore has selected Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman to be his running mate, rounding out the Democratic ticket with the first Jewish vice presidential candidate in American history.

Al Gore has selected Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman to be his running mate, rounding out the Democratic ticket with the first Jewish vice presidential candidate in American history.

Lieberman, 58, beat out five other finalists: Sens. Evan Bayh of Indiana, John Edwards of North Carolina, John Kerry of Massachusetts; House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri and New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.

The Gore campaign hoped Lieberman's selection would be a bold stroke heading into next week's Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. He trails rival George W. Bush in polls after last week's Republican convention.

A Democratic centrist, Lieberman would amplify Gore support of fiscal discipline and middle class tax cuts, the sources said. Gore considers his pick a respected voice of independence and integrity, and the sources drew a contrast to the Republican ticket's ties to special interests. Lieberman was an outspoken critic of President Bill Clinton's conduct during the impeachment controversy.

One of the sources said his choice will help make the ticket more appealing to independents and swing voters who favour Clinton's policies but were turned off by his personal conduct. Polls show Bush benefiting from the so-called "Clinton fatigue."

Gore's selection of an Orthodox Jew is a first. Because he and his wife Hadassah observe the Jewish Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, Lieberman is ostensibly prohibited from working then.

The senator has interpreted this to mean he may still work during that time, but only to promote "the respect and protection of human life and well-being."

He has said he will vote on legislation and participate in important meetings on the Sabbath - but won't campaign.

He skipped one of his state nominating conventions because it was held on the Sabbath. Picking the moderate Democrat and self-styled moral crusader as his running mate signals an effort by Gore to win over independent and Republican voters and distance himself from Clinton's controversies. While critics brand Lieberman as a liberal who votes for abortion rights, gun control and tax hikes, Democrats say he's more conservative when it comes to issues such as defense spending and family values.

As rumours of a Lieberman pick swirled during the past few months, the senator kept the vow of silence he pledged to Gore, a friend he has called the "most responsible vice president in our history."

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