Graham bid for president pushed back

Published: Friday, January 24, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 24, 2003 at 12:13 a.m.
Enlarge |

Sen Bob Graham, D-Fla. talks to reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday. Graham said Thursday he will undergo heart surgery in early February, postponing announcement of a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Sen. Bob Graham of Florida said Thursday he will undergo heart surgery in early February, postponing the announcement of a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Graham told reporters in his office that he had made up his mind to run and was planning to announce his candidacy in Tallahassee on Feb. 3. Now, Graham said, he will have surgery to replace a faulty aortic valve that same week.
The 66-year-old senator said he will reassess whether he should run a month after the surgery, which his doctor said should return him quickly to good health.
"The week of February 3, I'd rather be on an airplane on the way to Des Moines, Iowa," Graham said. But he added "I consider myself fortunate" to have doctors warn him that the medical step was necessary.
Graham was told of the need for surgery during medical tests he had conducted to find out if he should proceed with a presidential run.
His wife, Adele, was at the meeting with reporters in his office Thursday and said the senator's health is the primary concern of his family, but they are supportive of a presidential bid if his health allows.
Graham said he has experienced "shortness of breath" in recent weeks but has been exercising by taking walks in his Miami Lakes neighborhood and using an exercise bicycle regularly.
Graham has been a leading Democratic voice in the war on terror and is the one member of Congress considering a run for the White House who voted against the resolution giving President Bush the authority to use force against Iraq if necessary.
Graham said just before Christmas that he was considering a run for the White House, saying he was "not satisfied with the direction we are being led today."
Graham has been an outspoken critic of White House policy on terrorism and has played a prominent role as a leader of the congressional inquiry into the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the failure of the government's intelligence operations.
He was governor of Florida from 1978-1986 and has served in the Senate since then. While Graham has broader experience than most currently considering a run, he would be getting a late start in fund raising and organizing in early states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Graham's name has surfaced periodically as a possible candidate in past presidential elections, and he was considered as a vice presidential contender in 2000. Graham's popularity in his native state could be a valuable asset because Florida has 27 electoral votes and is a top source of campaign money for both political parties. Florida has a special significance after its pivotal role in the 2000 presidential election.
Graham has said his opposition to the resolution on using force in Iraq was not intended to play down the threat from Iraq, but a statement about what he feels is an inappropriate shift from the campaign against al-Qaeda.
Graham supported the 1991 resolution to use force in Iraq. But he said the resolution approved in October failed to give the president authority to attack Hezbollah and other terror groups and increased the potential for more attacks in the United States.
Graham's position on terrorism and his legislative experience could be an asset if he can run. But political analysts have suggested that he would have to develop a broader message on the economy and deliver that message effectively. Graham was already working with a timetable that would have been considered a bit late, and this could postpone that decision until at least mid March.
Other potential candidates have been raising money and building their political networks for the last year, so Graham would have to work fast to close the gap.
He is considered a moderate voice among Senate Democrats and he has pushed for free trade with Latin American countries. He also has championed environmental issues like restoring the Everglades and pushed for better prescription drug benefits.
He has been a leading proponent of updating the nation's intelligence capabilities, leading efforts to improve sharing of intelligence information and better protecting sensitive government information.
A Graham trademark during his service as a popular governor and senator has been his workdays, where he spends a day doing various jobs of people in Florida.
His jobs have included service as a policeman, railroad engineer, construction worker, fisherman and teacher.
Graham's habit of keeping detailed diaries of his daily thinking and activities are unusual for a public official and drew mixed reactions when he was a contender for the vice presidential slot in 2000.
On The Net: Graham's office:

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top