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Daschle Decides Against Presidential Bid

In a move that stunned top Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle (S.D.) announced Tuesday that he will not launch a presidential bid.

Daschle had appeared to be leaning toward a White House bid in recent days, and in an official statement he said that he “came very close to deciding in favor of running.”

“Yet, after careful reflection, I’ve concluded that at this moment in our history, with so many important decisions to be made about our nation’s future, my passion lies here in the Senate serving the people of South Dakota, and fighting for working families all across America,” Daschle said.

Daschle, who is up for re-election in 2004, did not definitively say he would run for re-election.

“When I truly confronted the question of what it is I most want to do and where my passion lies today, I concluded that I want to be here in the Senate, making a difference for my state and my country,” he said in the prepared statement.

A surprised Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), one of many lawmakers who have already thrown their hats into the presidential ring, learned the news from a reporter.

“At this point I think the field is going to keep changing,” Kerry told Roll Call. “I am just staying focused.”

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