Daschle unclear about presidential plans

Saturday, February 23, 2002

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Is he or isn't he? Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle isn't saying for sure.

The South Dakota Democrat was quoted Wednesday in the Black Hills Pioneer newspaper as saying he was considering a run for president in 2004 but was "concerned about keeping a majority in the Senate."

During a visit Friday to Sioux Falls, Daschle sought to clarify the quote, saying a run for the White House is merely one of the three options "that I need to think about, not that I am thinking about it, but that I intend to think about."

Daschle said he also could seek re-election to the Senate or retire from public life. He said the newspaper, in Spearfish, may have misunderstood what he meant.

"I don't remember how I said it that could have caused them to write as they did," Daschle explained. "But that's the full answer."

Stewart Huntington, publisher of the newspaper, stood by the story.

There has been much speculation over a possible presidential bid by Daschle. Many see his role as the nation's highest ranking Democrat as a good jumping off point for a presidential campaign.

The state Legislature passed a bill this week that would keep South Dakotans from running for president and another office at the same time.

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