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Kerry, Democrats' 2004 candidate, decides not to run for president in 2008

Kerry, Democrats' 2004 candidate, decides not to run for president in 2008

Democratic Sen. John Kerry came within a hair's breadth of the presidency in 2004 and has been wrestling with the question of whether he should run again in 2008. His decision: No.
Kerry lost the Midwestern state of Ohio by 118,601 votes two years ago, which cost him the election and gave President George W. Bush a second term. He said Wednesday he has decided not to give in to the urge for another campaign.
His decision leaves a field of nine Democrats running or signaling their intention to do so, including Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards, Kerry's 2004 vice presidential running mate.
The Constitution's two-term limit for presidents keeps Bush from running again, but the Republican field to replace is similarly crowded.
Officials said Kerry would seek a new six-year term in the Senate in 2008. The fourth-term lawmaker and decorated Vietnam War veteran said he would devote his time and energy to ending the conflict in Iraq.
He said he wanted President Bush's successor to enter office with the United States having "a reasonable prospect of success" in Iraq.
"I don't want the next president to find that they have inherited a nation still divided and a policy destined to end as Vietnam did _ in a bitter and sad legacy," he said.
Kerry, 64, made the announcement on the Senate floor at the end of a lengthy speech on Iraq. He briefly choked up.
Edwards said he knew the decision was difficult for Kerry "because we know his first instinct is always to respond to any call to serve his country." In a statement, he said Kerry will work to find the appropriate exit from the Iraq war and said, "In Vietnam, in public office and in private life, John Kerry has always fought the good fight for the right cause."
Obama said that from Vietnam to the 2004 campaign, "John Kerry has fought for his country and his ideals. ... and will continue to serve his country with honor and distinction in the years to come."
Kerry's 2004 campaign drew widespread criticism from fellow Democrats after his defeat. His critics said he had failed to make a forceful enough response to Republican criticism as well as charges by conservative groups that he did not deserve the medals he won for combat in the Vietnam War.
The senator stirred unhappy memories for Democrats last fall, when he botched a joke and led Republicans to accuse him of attacking U.S. troops in Iraq.
He apologized, then hastily scrapped several days of campaigning for fellow Democrats as party leaders urged him to avoid becoming an unwanted issue in a campaign they were on the way to winning.
At the same time, he worked to keep his presidential hopes alive.
Aides said he had donated more than $14 million (euro10.8 million) to more than 260 Democratic candidates in 2006, and campaigned in 35 states. They said he has an active online community of more than 3 million people, and has $12.5 million (euro9.6 million) in his campaign bank account, advantages for any presidential contender.
Yet polls showed Kerry trailing his Democratic rivals. Last October, people were asked in an Associated Press-AOL News poll who came to mind as the candidate they would like to see elected president. Kerry was named by just 1 percent.
In a CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday, 51 percent of Democrats said they would not like to see Kerry run in 2008. When asked whom they would support, only 5 percent said Kerry, placing him fifth and far behind leader Clinton at 33 percent.
The Massachusetts lawmaker decided to clarify his political plans on a day in which he participated in a debate over the war in Iraq by invoking memories of Vietnam. At the committee hearing, he said a memorable question he first posed in 1971 had relevance today: "How do you ask a man to be the last person to die for a mistake?"
Despite his difficulties on a national level, Kerry customarily rolls up large victory margins at home in Massachusetts. He won his first term in 1984.
While Kerry was saying privately as recently as December that he would likely wage a second campaign, the tone among his aides changed in recent weeks as Clinton and Obama announced their White House bids.
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Associated Press writer Glen Johnson in Boston contributed to this report.


Updated : 2020-12-05 20:25 GMT+08:00