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Text of Gephardt's Statement

"After much deliberation, I have decided not to seek the post of House Democratic Leader, a job I have been honored to hold for the past eight years.

"I understand the enormous commitment that is required by the job and I've concluded that in fairness to my friends and colleagues in the House, they need a leader for the next two years who can devote his or her undivided attention to putting our party back in the majority. I will never stop fighting to make that happen. I will maintain the seat I am proud to hold representing the people of my district, the district where I was born in the city that I love.

"I'm looking forward to the freedom to speak for myself and talk about my vision for America's future. Staying on in this post requires me to represent my Caucus and the wide diversity it represents. I believe in my colleagues and have been honored to work with them. It's time for me personally to take a different direction, look at the country's challenge from a different perspective and take on this President and the Republican Party from a different vantage point.

"One of the key goals of a leader is to build a consensus among Democratic Members of Congress, to keep our team together. But there is another challenge. We must speak to our future, to Americans' dreams for building an even better nation. I want to step out of a day-to-day management role and talk to a broader audience about our nation and our goals for our children. Ideas that will make our children's lives better: providing health care for all, expanding economic opportunity, supporting world-class education, secure retirements, energy independence, environmental protections, and securing America in a changing world. I look forward to the challenge. We have much to do - we must translate our enduring values into new ideas that meet the challenges of 21st century America.

"The Democratic Party should be about building an agenda for future generations, not just for the next election. Despite our having not achieved our goal of winning back the House, I believe our values are right for America and we will ultimately succeed in moving our country forward.

"I congratulate the President and his party for their victory at the polls. The President spent an extraordinary amount of time and energy in these races campaigning and proved again how effective a politician he can be.

"As Democrats, we fought for our values - opportunity for all, a more secure America, good and affordable health care, and Social Security and Medicare that is there when you need it. We fought for a world-class education for our kids. We made progress on reforming campaign finances and pushing a recalcitrant majority into protecting investors' rights. But the obstacles put in our path along the way - from an uncompromising and rigidly conservative Republican majority in the House, to deep-pocketed special interests, to a President who refused to lead on these issues - make it even more important today that Democrats remain full-throated in their fight to ensure that all of America is represented in Washington in the days ahead.

"I treasure the institution of the House and the Democratic colleagues I serve with. But it is time for me to give this opportunity and the honor of leadership to someone else. These are new times, and they call for new ideas and bold action. We have great challenges and great opportunities. I look forward to moving ahead now, and working to promote a better future for America."