by Steven Ertelt
November 29, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist surprised political observers on Wednesday with news that he will not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2008. The transplant surgeon had chosen not to run for re-election and most Washington pundits speculated Frist, who opposes abortion, was preparing a presidential bid.
Frist made the announcement public at an early afternoon press conference.
"In the Bible, God tells us for everything there is a season, and for me, for now, this season of being an elected official has come to a close," Frist said in a statement.
He said he was taking "a sabbatical from public life" in order to return to medicine.
"At this point, a return to private life will allow me to return to my professional roots as a healer and to refocus my creative energies on innovative solutions to seemingly insurmountable challenges Americans face," Frist explained.
The Tennessee senator built up a solid record opposing abortion following his first election to the Senate in 1994, but Frist upset pro-life advocates when he backed a measure forcing taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research that destroys human life.
Frist’s decision means there is one less possible top-tier contender for the GOP nomination.
As a result, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani are the most prominent likely candidates. Romney is a recent pro-life convert and opposes embryonic stem cell research, McCain opposes abortion buts supports embryonic stem cell research and Giuliani backs both.
Other potential Republican presidential candidates include pro-life Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, pro-life Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, pro-abortion Gov. George Pataki of New York, and pro-life Rep. Duncan Hunter of California.
Former Speaker of the House New Gingrich of Georgia, who is pro-life, may also consider a presidential bid.
Likely candidates for president on the Democratic side all strongly support abortion and embryonic stem cell research funding. They include: New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, former Vice President Al Gore, and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.
Gen. Wesley Clark, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana are also possible candidates.
Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa has already declared his intent to seek the Democratic nomination.