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Santorum leaves 2008 presidential bid a possibility



Published: Thu, July 28, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The senator said it would take 'a strange set of circumstances' for him to run for president.

KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

WASHINGTON -- Just when he seemed to take himself out, he pulled himself back in.

After saying Monday in an online chat with a newspaper's Web site that his intention was not to run for president in 2008, Sen. Rick Santorum, R.-Pa., said Wednesday that he would not completely rule out the possibility.

"The reason I leave this little window open is because I have no idea what's going to happen between now and 3 1/2 years from now," Santorum said in a breakfast meeting with reporters.

Santorum, who is facing re-election next year, said it would take "a strange, remote set of circumstances" to alter his plan not to be a candidate for the GOP nomination for the White House.

"It would be easier for me to say no, absolutely, positively under no circumstances, but in my mind that wouldn't be honest," he said.

Santorum, 47, said he was not shying away from a 2008 candidacy because it might negatively affect his Senate race against the likely Democratic nominee, Pennsylvania State Treasurer Robert P. Casey.

"Given the race that I'm in and will be for the next 15 months and certainly the impact that has on my family," he explained, "the idea of turning around and launching into a two-year campaign for the presidency is something that, at this point, is beyond my ability to fathom."

As chairman of his party's Senate caucus, Santorum is the third-ranking Republican in the leadership. He said he planned to run next year for whip, the No. 2 position.

Santorum's views

During the interview, the two-term lawmaker said that the potential appointment of Supreme Court justices who share his opposition to same-sex marriage would not alter his desire for a constitutional amendment banning such unions. He also said that a request for examination of nominee John G. Roberts Jr.'s tax returns seemed "a little bit voyeuristic."

Speaking about his new book, "It Takes a Family," Santorum was asked if a belief in the theory of evolution can coexist with religious faith. Many evangelical Christians believe in the theory of intelligent design, which argues that certain features of the universe and living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as evolution.

On the issue of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would ban homosexual unions, Santorum said he would continue to support passage whether or not newly appointed Supreme Court justices might ultimately rule against same-sex marriage.

"I think it's a good idea to go through the democratic process in doing something that you think is important for the country, as opposed to sitting back and letting the courts and the swings in the courts make a decision as to which direction the country is going to take," Santorum said.

"The issue is important enough that we speak on it, and we shouldn't wait to see what justice dies or lives to determine whether we're going to actually do something that we believe is right," he added.




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