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Bumpers Could Run in ’92, Son Says

March 22, 1987

LITTLE ROCK (AP) _ U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers’ decision not to run for president this year may not preclude the possibility of taking the plunge in four years, his former campaign manager and one of his sons said Saturday.

The 61-year-old Arkansas Democrat said in a statement released Friday from his Washington office that he wouldn’t run for personal reasons.

The senator’s son, Brent, 34, and nephew Archie Schaffer III, a former campaign manager, said Saturday that Bumpers believed he had a strong chance of winning.

″I must have talked to him an hour yesterday (Friday) during two or three conversations,″ Brent Bumpers said. ″We talked about the same things we’ve been talking about for months, the pros and cons of the whole decision ... I think he was plenty confident he could have gotten the nomination.″

The senator said Friday the campaign would have meant ″a total disruption of the closeness my family has cherished and, if victorious, much of that closeness is lost forever.″

His son agreed. ″But I was willing to do whatever it took ... I talked to my brother, Bill, a couple of times. We both had virtually identical sentiments about it. We both volunteered to go into it full time, if he wanted to do it.″

Bill Bumpers is a lawyer in Washington, D.C.

Asked if he thought his father had ruled out the possibility of ever running for president, Brent Bumpers said, ″I can tell you the answer to that is no.

″I think the prospects of taking over eight years of Reagan heritage might have been a consideration, too,″ Brent Bumpers said. ″I wouldn’t necessarily say this would be the last possibility.″

Schaffer said he never talked to Bumpers about whether he would consider running again.

″I’d say the chances of that are pretty slim, although not totally out of the question,″ he said. ″In four years he’ll only be 65, 66, which is still a few years younger than Ronald Reagan was when he first ran, so I would say it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility, but not very likely.″

Several attempts to contact Bumpers on Saturday at his home in Maryland and his office at the Capitol were unsuccessful. His wife, Betty, said he was at his office but probably wasn’t taking incoming calls.

When asked Saturday how she felt about the decision, she said, ″I’m relieved that the decision has been made.″

New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, who ducked out of the race last month, and Illinois Sen. Paul Simon, who pushed hard for Bumpers to run, expressed regret Saturday.

″He was the kind of person who would have made a great president,″ Simon said in Chicago.

Cuomo said of Bumpers’ decision, ″I regret it, but I understand it.″

In Charleston, Ark., population 1,748, residents who had visions of Bumpers’ hometown becoming another Plains, Ga., saw their hopes dashed. ″It would have been a boom here if he had been elected president,″ former Mayor W.D. House said. ″Boomtime, surely. But now that he’s not running, it’s the same old Charleston.″

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