Russ Feingold Considers Presidential Run

Feingold sizes up presidential race (JS Online)

Talking at length about his political plans and the future of his party, Sen. Russ Feingold said he would consider running for president in 2008 if there is enough encouragement and interest from Democrats and if he thinks he has a real shot at winning the nomination. Feingold, who plans to step up his national travel and speaking, said his goal for now is to influence the direction of the party and help it rebound from its losses.

After his brilliant success in getting money out of politics with the McCain-Feingold bill, I’d say he’s the man to do it.

He can’t gauge the odds of making a White House bid, he said. “I’m trying to be one of God knows how many Democrats who are going to get out there and try to help turn this thing around,” said Feingold, the third-term senator from Wisconsin who has sent a variety of signals that he would like to raise his national profile. He spent three days last week making appearances in Florida. “If at some point people say, ‘Hey, we think you ought to run for president’ (and) it’s a serious thing, I’m going to listen. I would only run if I honestly believed that I was the guy that really could win, that I was the person who was the best candidate to run,” said Feingold, who sat down Wednesday at a reporter’s request to talk about the Democratic Party and the 2008 presidential contest. “I’m not interested in getting out there just for the sake of saying, ‘This would be a fun thing to try.’ It’s a far too serious thing for that,” said Feingold, best known nationally for the 2002 campaign law that he authored with Arizona Republican John McCain. “And who knows? If get out there and I’m not the right guy, I might just cause problems. So maybe I’ll end up being just somebody helping somebody else. But I want to help.”

Does this remind anyone else of Ross Perot?

Feingold is in the process of setting up what is known as a leadership PAC, or political action committee, a common vehicle for potential national candidates to make campaign donations and fund travel. In the aftermath of his re-election, he has maintained a campaign staff of five in Wisconsin, including two fund-raisers. He ended 2004 with about $460,000 left over in campaign money.

None of it donated by people with a political agenda, I hope.

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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 and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    Maybe if he does run we should consider nominating McCain to go up against him.

    At least we wouldn’t have to watch them debating on TV — there’s no screen wide enough to get both their egos in the same shot.

  2. Bachbone says:

    They would make a good team. Both legends in their own minds.

  3. Fred Boness says:

    It would be good to get him out of Wisconsin. Sorry about the rest of you guys.