NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ As Joseph Lieberman tells the story, he was feeling more than a bit puffed up after a function where he'd been praised to the skies. On the way home, he turned to his wife, Hadassah, and asked, ``How many truly great leaders are there in the Western world today?''

She replied, ``One less than you think.''

Hadassah Freilich Lieberman, 52, is known for keeping her husband's feet on the ground.

She was born in a Prague refugee camp, her mother a survivor of Auschwitz and Dachau, her father a slave laborer under the Nazis.

As her husband formally joined the Democratic presidential ticket at a Nashville rally on Tuesday, she spoke with emotion of her background and told the crowd it was a proud moment for all Americans.

``Whether you and your family immigrated from Europe, Africa, Mexico, Latin America or Asia, I am standing here for you,'' she said. ``This country is our country. This land is your land and anything is possible for us.''

Gore, in his remarks, took special notice of another member of the Lieberman family, a 3-year-old granddaughter named Tennessee, born to Lieberman's son Matthew and his wife, April, a native of Gleason, Tenn.

Friends say Hadassah Lieberman has helped her husband keep things in perspective during 17 years of marriage and two terms as a U.S. senator.

``He likes being a regular Joe,'' said Michael Lewan, Lieberman's first Senate chief of staff. ``And she helps him be a regular Joe.''

Her family moved to America when she was 3, and settled in Gardner, Mass., where her father served as a community rabbi.

``When she saw something she wanted, she went for it,'' said Pattie Gallant Mitchell, who grew up across the street.

In the 1970s, she worked in New York in marketing and promotion.

``As women, we were struggling to make it in a man's world,'' she once said. ``We'd wear three-piece blue suits. I learned to smoke cigars.''

She met Lieberman in 1982. Both had gone through painful divorces. Hadassah was raising a 6-year-old son, Ethan. Lieberman had two children, Matthew and Rebecca. The two married in 1983 and have a 12-year-daughter Hana.

``She's smart, she's pleasant, she manages so many things so graciously,'' said Nechama Langenauer, a neighbor of the Liebermans in New Haven, Conn. ``She is committed to raising her family and realizing both her own potential and her husband's goals.''