Florida's Sen. Bob Graham Seriously Considering 2004 Presidential Bid

Sen. Bob Graham said Monday he is seriously considering running for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, saying he is not satisfied with President Bush's leadership as the country faces unprecedented economic and military problems.

Graham, a 16-year senator who also served as Florida's governor from 1978-86, was recently the chairman of the Senate's Intelligence Committee. He spoke Monday after he appeared on a Haitian-American radio talk show, where he received several calls asking if he intended to run.

"I'm thinking seriously about options, including the option of running for president," Graham told reporters. "This is a very difficult time for America. We're facing unprecedented problems in terms of our domestic economy, in terms of our international relations, particularly the war on terrorism and Iraq.

"I'm not satisfied with the direction we are being led today," Graham said. He said he's "considering what I think could be my contribution toward a new direction for America."

Graham, 66, said he has not decided whether he will seek re-election to the Senate in 2004 if he does not run for president.

Graham said his interest in running for president is not a result of former Vice President Al Gore's decision a week ago not to seek the Democratic nomination, which he won in 2000.

Graham said he will be meeting with family members and advisers over the upcoming holidays, but would not say when he hopes to make a decision.

He said the field of Democrats is wide open, noting that a recent poll found New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would lead if she were to enter the field.

"Two weeks ago Al Gore was the only candidate that had a high percentage of support and he's just announced that he's not going to run. He's been replaced with Senator Clinton who has also announced that she's not going to run," Graham said.

"I would say that none of the candidates, as experienced and as strong as they potentially might be, as of the end of 2002 have established a dominant position," Graham said.

Some other Democrats who might run for president in 2004 include Sens. Tom Daschle of South Dakota, John Edwards of North Carolina, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.