Feingold Rules Out 2008 Presidential Run

Russ Feingold has ended speculation about a 2008 presidential bid.

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold has decided against seeking the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, saying he wanted to focus on his work in the Senate.

In a letter posted on his political action committee’s Web site, Feingold said he was excited that Tuesday’s elections gave Democrats control of both chambers of Congress, giving them the chance to “undo much of the damage that one-party rule has done to America.” “We can actually advance progressive solutions to such major issues as guaranteed health care, dependence on oil and our unbalanced trade policies,” he wrote.

Feingold, 53, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he realized he would be a long-shot candidate in a bid for the presidency. He said running as an underdog appealed to him, but not the way it would “dismantle” his work in the Senate and his personal life.

An outspoken opponent of the Iraq war, the Patriot Act and other Bush administration policies, Feingold had formed his PAC, the Progressive Patriots Fund, and visited key presidential primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. Still, he said he started the process more predisposed against a run than for it. “I began with the feeling I didn’t really want to do this but was open to the possibility that getting around the country would make me want to do it. That never happened,” he told the newspaper in a story posted on its Web site late Saturday.

This virtually assures Hillary Clinton will not face a significant challenge from the left should she choose to run. While the 2008 elections are, obviously, a long way off, the truth is that time is running out to start fundraising, given that the primaries are a little more than a year off and are incredibly frontloaded.

Clinton would seem to be the big winner here, since it means she’ll have to work less hard to shore up the base, which will allow her to position herself as more centrist. I suppose Feingold’s departure also makes it easier fo Crazy Al Gore to make a run in his post-recount battle paranoid state.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    Hillary Clinton will not face a significant challenge from the left

    Okay, provided that you’re assuming John Edwards isn’t “significant.” Which I’m not saying he is …

  2. MinorRipper says:

    The only way the Democrats lose in 2008 is IF they nominate Hillary. Let’s face it folks, she is simply toxic, right or wrong, to a large percentage of the electorate. I am continually surprised by the ignoring and omission of the one person who could certainly derail the Hillary Express: Al Gore. He was shafted in 2000, was right on the war, and has been a true visionary on the environment. He sits on the board of Apple, are we in store for an Ipod like product introduction?

  3. Anderson says:

    I can’t gauge Hillary. I live in Mississippi, which is the bell jar inasmuch as estimating Hillary’s popularity is concerned.

    I’m just not sure that the Hildebeest haters would vote Dem in any event, or would fail to turn out against any other Dem.

    McCain has a lot of negatives, and if Hillary could beat any Repub, it’s McCain. He’s old, he’s insincere, he’s insincere-looking, he’s temperamental … the pundits love him now, but they’re fickle.

    Whereas, unless Hillary really does have a girlfriend, her negatives are pretty much old news.

    I would prefer Gore myself, but after what they did to him in 2000, I don’t see the media repenting. We’d get all the same crap again, and Gore never had the positives that the Clintons do, to outweigh the negatives.

  4. Tano says:

    There is surprisingly little enthusiasm for Hillary amongst the most active Dems. Gore is a sentimental favorite, but I suspect that one of the big themes that will emerge is the need to look forward, not to refight old battles. My sense is that most of this feeling, and the anti-Hillary feelings as well could very easily congeal around Obama. If he continues to shine once the expectation bar gets raised, then he will be the guy.
    Obama-Warner will be hard to beat.

  5. Stormy70 says:

    Senators don’t make for great Presidential material. I think a Governor will come out of the blue, or the red.

  6. Anderson says:

    Obama in 2008: Not. Going. To. Happen.

    The guy hasn’t DONE anything. Veep, at most.

    America is not so far past its racial issues that it’s going to elect a black president who hasn’t accomplished more than the typical white candidate. Colin Powell, for ex, before the UN speech, would’ve been a contended. There’s still a double standard, I predict. (Even Obama’s name is not going to play well. Trust me. There are people who would have a problem with it.)

  7. Tano says:


    You gotta keep in mind though how low the bar has been set for potential presidents.

  8. just me says:

    I think Obama may be the anti Hillary, but I agree he is too easy a target-he has done almost nothing, and has had no executive experience. The fact that he hasn’t been in the senate very long could be a help though rather than a hindrance, because what often kills a senate candidate is the fact that they have lists and lists of “no” votes that can be twisted into negatives, even though there was a legitimate reason for voting “no.” That whole I was for the 87 billion before I was against it thing at work.

    I don’t know that the media will sign on to Gore-but Gore does have one thing going for him-he hasn’t been in politics for the last 6 years (8 years by ’08) and he can claim clean hands-and I doubt anyone is going to care about what he did as a VP in the 90’s or as a senator before that.

    Edwards though may come out ahead as well.

    In general I don’t think either party seems to have inspiring candidates, and almost all of them have some pretty heavy baggage to lug around that will make for negative campaign ad fodder.

  9. Anderson says:

    Gore will have the industrial/polluter lobby after him like a pack of mad dogs. It would be very, very hard for him to win.

    He can do a lot more as an “elder statesman,” particularly by blessing someone else who has reasonable prospects but needs a boost — Edwards, say.

  10. Adam Herman says:

    Edwards is to Clinton’s left, as is Kerry and a few longshots.

    If Gore wins, he may or may not be to Clinton’s left, depending on which Al Gore decides to run for President in 2008.