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Wellstone won't run for president in 2000

Wellstone
Wellstone  

January 9, 1999
Web posted at: 6:40 p.m. EST (2340 GMT)

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AllPolitics, January 9) -- After more than eight months exploring a possible attempt at the 2000 Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota announced Saturday that he will not run.

Wellstone said a back injury from his college days, aggravated in the past two years by a ruptured disk in his lower back, would not allow him to pursue the nomination while representing Minnesota in the Senate.

"I've always said, 'Look, if I can do this presidential race and I can also do a good job for the people of Minnesota, I'm going to do both,'" Wellstone said before a gathering of supporters and reporters at the state Capitol in St. Paul. "I just can't do it all, and I can't go back on what I promised the people of Minnesota.

"I'm disappointed. I would have loved to have run this race," he said.

Just a month ago, Wellstone had hinted strongly to about 300 supporters in St. Paul that he was ready to throw his hat into the ring. But he said he came to the conclusion over the Christmas break that he couldn't run.

Wellstone, 54, was re-elected to a second term in the Senate in 1996. He has vowed not to seek re-election in 2002 and reiterated Saturday that nothing has changed to make him reconsider.

As one of the Senate's most outspoken liberals, the former college professor was positioning himself as an alternative to the more centrist philosophy of Vice President Al Gore, the front-runner for the 2000 Democratic nomination.

Asked whom he saw on the 2000 political horizon who would most closely match his views, Wellstone said he would "withhold judgment."

Wellstone raised about $500,000 during his exploratory campaign. He said he has not decided how to dispose of what remains in his account.

"It has been very exciting," he said of his exploratory effort. "It's been really good, grass-roots politics."

Wellstone was one of three Democratic candidates formally pursuing the nomination. The other two remaining are Gore, who has formed a full-fledged campaign committee, and former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, who has formed an exploratory committee.

House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri is considering a bid but hasn't made a decision. Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey announced in December that he would not run.



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