Former Democratic Sen. Gary Hart, whose 1988 presidential campaign collapsed amid questions about his relationship with a young model, said he is considering a bid for the White House in 2004.

"If you love the country and are motivated by public service as I am, it's very hard to sit on the sidelines,'' Hart, 65, told The Denver Post in Tuesday's editions.

He said the nation needs leadership and ideas, and friends are urging him to seek the Democratic nomination again.

Hart, a senator from Colorado from 1974 to 1986, unsuccessfully challenged Walter Mondale for the 1984 Democratic nomination. He campaigned again for the 1988 nomination but withdrew after reporters spotted him at a Washington town house with model Donna Rice, then 29.

"That was an issue between me and the press, not me and the American people,'' Hart said Monday.

"The American public never had a chance to weigh in. I said at the time I thought that we would return to some sanity and normality, and we have after a very difficult 15 years.''

Rice, now an anti-pornography activist, did not respond to requests for comment.

Hart practices international law in Denver and is still married to Lee Hart, his wife of 44 years. He lives in the community of Troublesome Gulch in the foothills west of the city.

His name resurfaced after the Sept. 11 attacks because a national security commission he chaired had predicted the terrorist threat to the United States.

Even if Hart can overcome questions about the Rice episode, he would have to raise millions of dollars over the next year to run for president.

"I wouldn't ridicule this candidacy out of hand,'' said Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. "But by the end of 2003, you better have 20 million bucks.''