- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said yesterday he will not run for president in 2004 but will seek re-election to the Senate.
While he "came very close" to a White House bid, his "passion lies here in the Senate," Mr. Daschle said in a statement.
His decision creates a little more room in a crowded field of Democrats exploring bids for the presidency in 2004.
Mr. Daschle said the nation is about to begin a series of "defining debates" on economic policy, homeland security and other critical issues.
"Those debates will take place here in the U.S. Congress. And the U.S. Senate is the institution that can have the most influence on behalf of the values that Democrats believe in, and that I care about most," he said in a statement.
Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean have declared their candidacies for the Democratic nomination. Other hopefuls include Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, former House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York, a civil rights activist. Sens. Bob Graham of Florida and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut also are potential candidates.
A spokeswoman from Mr. Gephardt's Missouri office, Adella Jones, said yesterday that the congressman had not decided whether he would seek another term.
Mr. Daschle said he made his decision Monday.
Senate Democrats said they respected his decision, and some said it was best for the party.
"I think it's going to help our ability as Democrats in the Senate to ensure that whatever is done is done in a fair fashion in the Senate," said Sen. John B. Breaux, Louisiana Democrat.
"The Senate needs someone with that experience as leader," said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat. "I'm just glad that he's concentrating on the Senate."
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, said Mr. Daschle "would have been a good candidate for president," but that his decision not to run would allow Democrats to "avoid having to have a race for the leadership."
Morris Reid, a former Clinton administration official, agreed, saying Democrats "need a strong leader to continue to put pressure on the White House."
Democrats insisted that the large field of candidates was not a drawback for the party.
"In the end it'll sort out," said Mr. Kerry. "There's only so much money and there's only so much support. That always happens in these races. It begins with a flurry and then it begins to sort itself out as it goes along."
Mr. Daschle said the news coverage of the race "enhances and provides even greater opportunity for the Democratic message to be heard."
Mr. Reid, however, said having several Democrats vying for the nomination may create divisions and "will make it much more challenging to have a strong agenda coming out of the Senate."
Mr. Kerry, who is traveling to New Hampshire this week and Iowa next week, says he is not affected by Mr. Daschle's decision.
"There will people who will join and people who will not join over the course of the next weeks, which is fine by me. I've been on a course for the last year that is fairly clear, and I'm just going to stay on that course," he said.
Mr. Daschle did not rule out a future shot at the presidency.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide