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Top Democrats mull presidential bids

Daschle, Biden among those considering campaigns

Sen. Tom Daschle
Sen. Tom Daschle

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Though still reeling from Republican successes in the midterm elections, some top Democrats are considering running for the White House in 2004.

Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle will meet next week with potential financial backers next week as he mulls whether to throw his hat in the ring, Democratic sources told CNN.

One source said the possibility of a Daschle presidential bid is "definitely in play" even though Democrats lost control of the Senate during the recent midterm elections. Another source said that Daschle, whose Senate term expires in 2004, "is exploring all options."

Separately, Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Delaware, said he too is thinking about a presidential campaign.

"I have to learn a lot more about what prospects I'd have before I'd do that," Biden told CNN Sunday. "If, after the next few months, I concluded I had a reasonable shot ... I would not be reluctant to do it."

He added, "I'm going to go out and take a look and decide whether or not it's viable."

Biden, speaking from Wilmington, Delaware, predicted former Vice President Al Gore will make his own bid for president.

"I think Al Gore is a significant national figure. If he decides to run, he'll be formidable, and I think he should," he said.

Sen. Joseph Biden
Sen. Joseph Biden

Biden, who has run unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 1988, also said he and Gore disagree on some things. Asked to describe those differences, Biden refused to take the bait. "It's a little premature to engage that at this moment," he told Blitzer.

Biden added, "I would not hesitate to run because he's running."

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Connecticut, reiterated to CBS' "Face the Nation" that he will not seek the nomination if Gore does, despite statements by Gore that his former running mate ought to make his decision independently.

"I think sometimes when he says that, he means he didn't ask me for the promise and I didn't make it to him, and he's absolutely right," Lieberman told CBS.

"It was my judgment about what was right, that this is the man who gave me an extraordinary honor and opportunity to run for vice president of the United States.

"I couldn't then and can't now see myself turning on him and saying, 'Thanks, pal, but I'm going to run against you for the Democratic nomination.' So I'm happy to wait until right after the first of the year when Al announces what he's going to do, and then I'll make my decision."

Gore's former campaign manager, Donna Brazile, told ABC she did not know what he will do, but added, "I don't know, but I believe there's something inside of Al Gore that will lean toward him running in 2004."

Sens. John Kerry, -D-Massachusetts, and John Edward, D-North Carolina, and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean are also viewed as possible 2004 presidential contenders.

--CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley contributed to this report.

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