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The biggest obstacle to his own candidacy, Mr. Williams said, is his wife of 47 years, Conchetta.

“She said that if I ever thought about it seriously, she’d assassinate me,” he said.

While his age (he’ll turn 71 next month) might seem a problem to a presidential run, Mr. Williams says he is in excellent health, thanks to a regimen that includes a personal trainer, bicycling, two glasses of wine each day — and smoking half a pack of cigarettes daily. “My grandfather smoked a pack of Camels a day, drank almost a half-pint of Old Grandad every day and died when he was 94,” he said.

Though he has no plans for trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, Mr. Williams would not completely rule out a 2008 run for the White House.

“I’ve learned that one should always keep his options open,” he said. “You should never say never, but I haven’t gone to the trouble of forming an exploratory committee.”