Former Sen. Gary Hart, whose name has surfaced as a possible presidential candidate, says he doesn't want to run for office, "but I don't want to sit on the sidelines either.''

Earlier this week, the 65-year-old former two-term senator who practices international law in Denver said he was considering a bid. In an appearance Thursday, he didn't rule out another presidential campaign.

"I don't want to run for office, but I want to make a contribution,'' he said during a lecture on national security to University of Colorado students.

"I don't have any great need to be in public office, but I don't want to sit on the sidelines either,'' said Hart, whose 1988 Democratic presidential campaign was derailed in a scandal 14 years ago.

Hart 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 a model while his wife was away.

His name resurfaced after the Sept. 11 attacks because a national security commission he co-chaired had predicted a terrorist threat to the United States and suggested the creation of a department of national security.

On Thursday, Hart criticized his own party for its performance during Tuesday's elections, in which Republicans reclaimed control of the U.S. Senate and gained seats in the House.

Democrats "didn't offer alternatives, they didn't offer any ideas on how to make the economy grow, about America's role in the world, (or) a defense policy that was not just militarism,'' Hart said. "We got what we deserved.''