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Gephardt Won’t Run for President

February 2, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, one of Vice President Al Gore’s most formidable political rivals, will announce Wednesday that he is not seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, The Associated Press learned today.

Gephardt will tell House lawmakers in a private meeting that he has decided to concentrate instead on helping the party gain control of the House in 2000, several allies to the Missouri lawmaker said. As the House’s top Democrat, Gephardt almost certainly would become speaker if Republicans lose the House in 2000.

The decision is not a surprise. Gephardt, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 1988, was less inclined to run in 2000 after Democrats gained seats in the House in 1998, putting him closer to the speakership.

Still, it is good news for Gore, who heads into the 2000 campaign with a surprisingly thin field of challengers. Former Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey is the only announced rival to the vice president. Sens. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and Paul Wellstone of Minnesota opted out of the race. Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts still may get in.

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