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Indiana Democrat Bayh Won't Seek Nomination

Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.) dropped out of the race after conferring with advisers.
Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.) dropped out of the race after conferring with advisers. (By Cheryl Senter -- Associated Press)

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By Chris Cillizza
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) will not run for president in 2008, a stunning reversal that comes just 13 days after he opened an exploratory committee to consider the race.

"Due to circumstances beyond our control, the odds were longer than I felt I could responsibly pursue," Bayh said in a statement yesterday. "It wasn't an easy decision, but it was the right one for my family, my friends and my state."

Even as Bayh was announcing that he was getting out of the race, former vice presidential nominee John Edwards was preparing for a second bid for the White House.

Two Democratic officials told the Associated Press that Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, plans to announce his intentions this month in New Orleans's Lower Ninth Ward.

Bayh, a relative unknown on the national stage, faced an uphill fight given the likely shape of the Democratic field. Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), perhaps the nation's most popular politician at the moment, appears increasingly likely to run, as does Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.). Both politicians are well known nationally and would probably raise $50 million or more to secure the Democratic nomination. Edwards has shown considerable strength in Iowa, the home of the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses.

For much of the past two years, Bayh had seemingly been preparing for a race, regularly visiting key states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, hiring a skeleton presidential staff and raising campaign cash.

But, over the past week, he had huddled with a small circle of advisers to gauge their sense of both the field and the prevailing political environment. At the end of this listening process, he decided against running and began reaching out to supporters Friday night to let them know he would not be a candidate, according to an adviser.

Bayh held a series of conference calls yesterday to thank staffers and supporters. And he received phone calls from Edwards and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who launched his presidential bid last month.

In many ways, a national run for Bayh seemed to be ordained since he entered public life two decades ago. A son of a senator, Bayh was elected Indiana secretary of state in 1986 and, two years later, at age 32, won the governorship. After serving two terms, he ran for the seat being vacated by Sen. Dan Coats (R) in 1998. He won that race and was reelected in 2004 to a second term with 62 percent of the vote.

Bayh is the third Democrat to pass on a presidential bid in recent months. Former Virginia governor Mark R. Warner announced this fall that he would not run for national office. Sen. Russell Feingold (Wis.) took his name out of contention shortly after the midterm elections.

Among Republicans, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.) removed himself from consideration on Nov. 29.


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