With his trademark thumbs-up, Sen. Joe Lieberman took the stage at the Stamford Marriott this afternoon to announce his retirement at his term’s end in 2013. Although Lieberman mostly stuck to his prepared remarks, he ad-libbed a joke at the start of his speech. A year into his first term, Lieberman’s wife, Hadassah, asked “Joey” how long he would serve in the Senate. “[I told her,] ‘When Regis leaves television, I’ll leave the Senate,’” he quipped.
After a list of his accomplishments, Lieberman defended himself against complaints about his unorthodox ideology:
I have not always fit comfortably into conventional political boxes—Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative. I have always thought that my first responsibility is not to serve a political party but to serve my constituents, my state, and my country, and then to work across party lines to make sure good things get done for them. Whatever the partisan or policy differences that divide us, they are much less important than the shared values and dreams that unite us and that require us to work together to make progress for all.
Lieberman also touted his political courage. Even though he was retiring, he insisted he wasn’t fleeing a fight — one many pundits expected him to lose — in 2012:
I know that some people have said that if I ran for reelection, it would be a difficult campaign for me. But what else is new? It probably would be. I have run many difficult campaigns before—from my first one in 1970 against the incumbent Democratic State Senate Majority Leader, to my 1988 campaign against the incumbent Republican U.S. Senator, to my campaign for re-election to the Senate in 2006 at the height of the controversy over the Iraq war. In all three of those elections most observers and pollsters thought I would not win. But with a lot of help from Independents, Democrats and Republicans—including many of you here today—in each case I did win.
I’ve never shied from a good fight and I never will.