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Feingold won’t seek presidency in ‘08

WASHINGTON – Sen. Russ Feingold will not seek his party’s presidential nomination in 2008, the Wisconsin Democrat told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Saturday.

“I never got to that point where I’d rather be running around the country, running for president, than being a senator from Wisconsin,” Feingold said.

Feingold, 53, conceded that he faced long odds of winning the nomination.

“It would have required the craziest combination of things in the history of American politics to make it work,” he said.

But Feingold said waging an underdog campaign appealed to him. What didn’t appeal to him, he said, was “the way in which this effort would dismantle both my professional life (in the Senate) and my personal life. I’m very happy right now.”

Feingold had been publicly weighing a presidential bid since early 2005, forming a political action committee, traveling to key states such as New Hampshire and Iowa, and cultivating a more national constituency as an early and outspoken opponent of the Iraq war, the Patriot Act and other Bush administration policies.

The senator said Saturday that he went into that process with more of a predisposition against running than the other way around. Although Feingold’s political activity pointed in many ways toward a run, he was not traveling, fundraising or organizing with quite the same intensity as some potential candidates.

Feingold’s thinking about the race crystallized in the last few weeks, he said. The Democratic takeover of Congress on Tuesday was a final factor because it added to the appeal of focusing entirely on his position in the Senate, he said.

Feingold is the second Democrat to seriously explore a campaign before opting out. Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner announced last month that he would not run.