WASHINGTON — Retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman used his final Senate floor speech Wednesday 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 after 24 years. He said strong bipartisan leadership is needed to solve the nation's most pressing problems, such as the looming "fiscal cliff" budget crisis.
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.