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Dems React to Decision

Reaction from Democrats to Al Gore's decision Sunday not to run for president in 2004:

"I think that Al Gore must have faced a very difficult decision and he exhibited some real courage in making the decision he did." -- Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who is running for president.

"We all owe Al enormous gratitude for years of dedicated and exemplary public service and for his significant contributions to our party and country. I know that he is going to continue to speak out and be involved on the issues that make a difference to Democrats and all Americans." -- Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who has formed a committee to explore a presidential bid.

"Gore was instrumental in helping to create the longest period of economic growth in our nation's history, creating millions of new jobs, and turning record deficits into surpluses. He has served as a leader on environmental issues and in international affairs, working with passion and conviction to tackle the toughest challenges we face." -- Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., who expects to make a decision soon on whether he will run.

"I respect Al Gore's decision not to seek the presidency in 2004. He is a good friend and a dedicated public servant. I look forward to his continued leadership and ideas for our party and for America." -- Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, who is mulling whether to run for president.

"From his trailblazing work on the environment and technology as a member of Congress to his extraordinary accomplishments as vice president in the areas of foreign affairs and economic security, Al has defined himself as someone who identifies problems before anyone else and offers solutions while others are still mulling the question.-- Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, who associates say is "very, very likely" to run for president.

"Al Gore was the best vice president America ever had. He would have been a fine president had history taken a different course two years ago." -- Former President Clinton.

"While Al Gore will not be a candidate in 2004, I know we can count on both of them to speak out on the issues they have fought so hard for and care so deeply about." -- Democratic national chairman Terry McAuliffe.

"It takes an awfully big person to look deep inside one's self and see that this is not their time. Al Gore, by putting his country and party before himself, has displayed a unique courage." -- Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

"I have the greatest respect for Al Gore, for his many years of dedicated service to our nation, and for his decision, which I am sure was not an easy one," said Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

"I think it opens the field. ... Everybody has a chance and that's an exciting time for us as Democrats." -- Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.