NEW YORK – The Rev. Al Sharpton is planning to run for president in 2004, Time magazine reported Sunday.
"I feel that the Democratic Party must be challenged in 2004 because it didn't fight aggressively to protect our voting rights in Florida," he said in the issue on newsstands Monday. "I think we need to look at running a black in the primary. I have said I would be available to do it."
Sharpton said the idea came to him while he sat under a tree in Sudan, which he visited in April on a fact-finding tour about slavery.
He denied that he was taking advantage of the Rev. Jesse Jackson's tarnished image. "I'm not one to think that Rev. Jackson's finished," he said. "I'm not trying to take advantage of his travail. My rise is not at Jesse's expense. If I'm rising it's because I've done the work on issues like police brutality that affect huge numbers of our people."
In January, Jackson, who ran for president in 1984 and 1988, acknowledged having fathered an out-of-wedlock child with a woman on the staff of his Washington office.
Sharpton, who was preaching at several New York City churches on Sunday, could not immediately be reached for comment, but his spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger confirmed that he was considering running for president.
Sharpton ran for U.S. Senate in New York in 1994 and came in third in a four-way contest in the Democratic primary with 25 percent of the vote. In 1997, he took 32 percent of the vote in a Democratic mayoral primary.