Politicians Jumping Ship on Presidential Bid

Senior news analyst Daniel Schorr takes note of a growing number of politicians who have announced they are not running for president in 2008.

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ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

Meanwhile, in this country, the presidential election is almost two years away, but there's already plenty of buzz about possible contenders.

NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr offers these thoughts.

DANIEL SCHORR: Sometimes it seems that a politician foregoing a presidential race is more noteworthy than one who's already campaigning. The outgoing Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, had been spending a lot of time in Iowa and New Hampshire, early primary states, and was assumed to have his hat in or near the ring. And so it caused some raised eyebrows last Wednesday when Senator Frist issued a written statement quoting the Bible - for everything there is a season - and saying that 2008 was not his season. It may be that his advisers made him aware that he'd been set back by a couple of stumbles, like his intervention in the drama over Terri Schiavo.

On the Democratic side, there were some raised eyebrows when Virginia's former governor, Mark Warner, unexpectedly counted himself out of the race, saying, This moment in life is not the right time for me. And Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold bowed out, saying that frankly speaking, the odds were against him.

That leaves a list of possibles, including, on the Republican side, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, New York ex-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Arizona Senator John McCain, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and the first Republican to announce his candidacy, California Representative Duncan Hunter.

On the Democratic side, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack was the first to announce his candidacy. Then there are Delaware Senator Joe Biden, New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, North Carolina ex-Senator John Edwards, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, and former NATO Commander General Wesley Clark.

Time was when a politician, coy about his intentions of running for president, was asked to make a Shermanesque statement - that refers to the categoric statement of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman: If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve.

In this age of the multi-million dollar candidacy, a politician without an exploratory committee and a hefty treasury is making today's version of a Shermanesque statement.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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