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Tom Daschle Considers Next Step

Tom Daschle (search) says he might consider writing, lecturing or teaching now that his Nov. 2 election loss has cost him his Senate seat and the job of Senate minority leader.

"I do want to affiliate in some way professionally with public policy," Daschle said Saturday in a telephone interview from his Washington home, where he was helping baby-sit his two grandchildren. "I'm also looking at the investment world."

The three-term senator, who led the Democratic caucus for 10 years, lost the nation's highest-profile Senate race last month by 4,500 votes to former Rep. John Thune (search) in an expensive and bitterly fought race.

Daschle said he isn't in any hurry to decide what he'll do. "I don't have any particular plans in mind, but I think I can say fairly definitively that I won't be lobbying."

The Washington newspaper The Hill has reported that Daschle's wife, Linda, now will expand her lobbying to the Senate. She said she did not lobby in that chamber while her husband served there.

Linda Daschle works for Baker Donelson Bearman & Caldwell. Airlines and aircraft companies are among her biggest clients.

Thune and some of his supporters injected her lobbying into the campaign, with some ads saying Tom Daschle profited from her clients in the pharmaceutical industry.

Daschle said making his wife a campaign issue was "one of the most disgusting effects of the campaign, and one of the most unfortunate and sorry displays of bad manners and bad politics."

Daschle, 57, said he probably won't enter politics again.

"I think this is an important opportunity to close the door and move on to other exciting challenges in life. I guess you never say never, but I can't imagine what that new political challenge would be," he said.

He gave no specifics about his plans, but said he will try to spend time on rural economic development, American Indian issues and international affairs.

"I've talked to law firms and investment firms and different educational institutions, and I'll probably do some speaking, and I'm taking a look at writing another book at some point," Daschle said.

His book "Like No Other Time (search)" described the workings of government during the 107th Congress, when events included Sept. 11, 2001, and the anthrax scare.

Daschle said he has no regrets about his last political campaign, saying his 193,000 votes exceeded his goal of about 190,000. "The other side just did a little bit better job than we did."

Daschle won a U.S. House seat in 1978 after a statewide recount gave him a 139-vote edge. He served four House terms before sidelining Thune's Republican mentor, then-Sen. Jim Abdnor, in 1986.

Daschle has devoted his recent days to the lame-duck session of Congress, casting his final vote this past week. He said he also has helped the new Democratic leadership make the transition and tried to find jobs for his staff.

He said he wants to make sure South Dakotans know how grateful he is for the "incredible years I've had the good fortune to serve them. Twenty-six years is a long time in public life, and I've had one of the most enjoyable experiences that anybody in public life could ever hope to have."