"Liz, as you know, is battling cancer and will soon have to undergo another round of chemotherapy," he said. "There have been questions about my health and that is a factor as well. I am feeling the aches and pains when you reach 70. My memory fails me on occasion, but Liz would probably argue this has been going on for the last 50 years."
The surprise announcement immediately triggered a political scramble and the state's sole congressman, independent Bernie Sanders, all but announced his candidacy within an hour.
For most, though, the focus was on Jeffords, whose decision to abandon the GOP in 2001 placed the Democrats in control of the U.S. Senate and made him a national hero among Democrats and a villain among Republicans.