Correction to This Article
This article imprecisely reported that Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) opposed administration wiretapping. It should have said he opposed the administration's warrantless wiretapping.

Feingold Won't Seek Democratic Nomination in 2008

By Judy Sarasohn
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 12, 2006; 2:30 PM

Sen. Russell Feingold, an outspoken antiwar Democrat from Wisconsin and a longshot contender for president in 2008, announced that he will not seek the Democratic nomination for president.

"I'm sure a campaign for president would have been a great adventure and helpful in advancing a progressive agenda. At this time, however, I believe I can best advance that progressive agenda as a senator with significant seniority in the new Senate serving on the Foreign Relations, Intelligence, Judiciary and Budget committees," Feingold said in a letter posted on his Senate campaign Web site today.

He said he could not "muster the same enthusiasm for a race for president while . . . trying simultaneously to advance our agenda in the Senate. In other words, if I really wanted to run for President, regardless of the odds or other possible candidates, I would do so. However, to put my family and all of my friends and supporters through such a process without having a very strong desire to run, seems inappropriate to me."

As he campaigned in 17 states for other Democrats, Feigngold said, people "responded well" to his opposition to the Iraq war, support for a timeline to redeploy U.S. troops and focus on terrorists who attacked New York and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001; opposition to administration wiretapping, support for guaranteed health care and other issues.

"[W]hile I've certainly enjoyed the repeated comments or buttons saying, 'Run Russ Run', or 'Russ in '08', I often felt that if a piece of Wisconsin swiss cheese had taken the same positions I've taken, it would have elicited the same standing ovations," Feingold said. "This is because the hunger for progressive change we feel is obviously not about me but about the desire for a genuinely different Democratic Party that is ready to begin to reverse the 25 years of growing extremism we have endured."

Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist who ran the 2004 presidential campaign of Howard Dean, wrote in The Washington Post's Outlook section last week that Feingold was a Democrat to watch for the presidential nomination.

"Perhaps the most authentic candidate, the senator from Wisconsin has a deep connection to the grass roots and is a favorite of the party's progressive wing. If President Bush stays stubborn on Iraq and the rest of the field plays it safe, Feingold could get very hot," Trippi wrote.

Feingold, 53, is also noted for his support for campaign finance reform. He first ran for the Senate in 1992 and won re-election in 1998 and 2004.

He had been publicly considering a run for the Democratic nomination for president since early last year. Former Virginia governor Mark Warner, who also had been weighing a bid for the Democratic nomination, said last month that he would not run.

In an interview yesterday with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feingold noted that he would have faced long odds of winning the nomination. He told the newspaper: "It would have required the craziest combination of things in the history of American politics to make it work."

Still exploring their own possible bids for their party's nomination:

· Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said today on NBC's "Meet the Press" that while he is taking the initial steps, such as setting up an exploratory committee that allows a potential candidate to raise money, he will not make "a decision until I sit down with my family." McCain, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination in 2000, probably won't make his decision until early next year.

· Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, has said he is forming an exploratory committee to weigh his potential for the nomination.

· Democratic Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware confirmed on ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" that he intends to seek the nomination but doesn't plan to establish an exploratory committee until early next year.

· Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack said last week he would seek the Democratic nomination for president.

Other Democrats who are being talked about are Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, widely considered the front-runner; Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois; Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the 2004 candidate; former senator John Edwards of North Carolina, who was Kerry's running mate; Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana; Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut; and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Other potential GOP candidates include former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.


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