Not Running? Say So, Sherman Style

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Some of the personalities whose names are bandied about as presidential contenders haven't declared and aren't actually running. Isn't it time for some of these people to make their intentions clear, a la William Tecumseh Sherman?


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

DANIEL SCHORR: A tank is named after him, also a political dogma.

HANSEN: NPR's senior news analyst, Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: Civil war General William Tecumseh Sherman resisted Republican pressure to run for president. His statement was: If drafted, I will not run. If nominated, I will not accept. If elected, I will not serve. Since then, generations of politicians who disavow any presidential aspiration, have been challenged to make the Shermanesque statement. Whether they have done so is frequently a matter of opinion.

Sometimes, the politician suffers inner torment about whether he or she wants to take the plunge. One of the more famous of these was New York Governor Mario Cuomo, who in 1991 hesitated to board a waiting plane to take him to New Hampshire to make the primary filing deadline until it was too late.

Some of the current crop of non-candidates - that is those who say no, but not convincingly - are former Vice President Al Gore: I have no intention to run; Senator John Kerry who said he will skip a second run for the White House in order to concentrate on bringing the war in Iraq to an end; Senator Bill Frist: I do not intend to run for president in 2008; New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: No intention to run, not sure if our country needs another candidate from New York; actor and former Senator Fred Thompson doesn't want to talk about a possible candidacy, but he has formed an exploratory committee, usually a step towards candidacy.

But none of them speaks in the absolutes called Shermanesque. Dipping into history, for example, there was President Johnson announcing he would not run for a second term - I will not seek, I will not accept. And my favorite, Congressman Mo Udall of Arizon: If nominated, I will run to Mexico. If elected, I will fight extradition.

This Daniel Schorr.

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