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Hastert says he won’t run for minority leader

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://msnbc.msn.com/id/15623951/ Hastert says he won’t run for minority leader Speaker tells colleagues he won’t seek House post after Democrat victory
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 8 4:30 PM

      Hastert says he won’t run for minority leader
      Speaker tells colleagues he won’t seek House post
      after Democrat victory

      NBC News and news services
      Updated: 1:35 p.m. MT Nov 8, 2006

      WASHINGTON - Triggering a post-election shake-up,
      House Speaker Dennis Hastert announced Wednesday he
      will not run for leader of House Republicans when
      Democrats take control in January.

      “Obviously I wish my party had won,” Hastert said in a
      statement, adding that he intends to return to the
      “full-time task” of representing his Illinois

      Hastert first conveyed word of his plans in a
      conference call with fellow GOP leaders a day after
      Republicans lost control of the House in midterm

      His decision to step down cleared the way for a likely
      succession battle. Rep. John Boehner of Ohio,
      currently the majority leader, is expected to run for
      minority leader, and Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana
      announced during the day he also will seek the post.
      Joe Barton of Texas has signaled he might join the

      Hastert was elected to an 11th term in Illinois on
      Tuesday night and had said he would seek a new term as
      speaker if the GOP held the House. But Democratic wins
      nationwide gave them control of the House and put
      California Democrat Nancy Pelosi in line to be the
      next speaker.

      Hastert: ‘Tough out there’
      “It’s been kind of tough out there,” Hastert said
      earlier during a brief appearance at his election

      In his statement, Hastert said Democrats “have a huge
      responsibility to help govern this nation” at a time
      of war against terrorism.

      “We are at war, and what is at stake goes to the very
      nature of our democracy,” he said. “We can and should
      have a vigorous debate about how we conduct the war.
      But that debate must rest on a mutual understanding
      that our enemy is ruthless and seeks to destroy our
      way of life, and that we must ultimately be victorious
      in this battle.”

      There is no recent precedent for Hastert's situation.
      The last time control of the House changed hands, in
      1994, the speaker at the time, Democratic Rep. Tom
      Foley of Washington, lost his House seat.

      Hastert, 64, became speaker nearly eight years ago,
      stepping up after Newt Gingrich resigned and his heir
      apparent, Bob Livingston, quit after saying he had had
      an extramarital affair.

      A former high school wrestling coach, Hastert was the
      perfect tonic for Republicans at the time, studiously
      avoiding the controversy that Gingrich often seemed to

      Hastert has been speaker since 1999, the
      longest-serving Republican speaker ever. In addition
      to the battering that his party took Tuesday, losing
      control of the House of Representatives after 12
      years, his reputation had been scarred by the Rep.
      Mark Foley sex scandal.

      The bipartisan House ethics committee is still probing
      whether Hastert, his staff, or other members of the
      Republican leadership knew about Foley’s inappropriate
      contact with teenage male pages. Hastert has denied
      any wrongdoing. Foley later resigned from the House.

      Bush urged him to run again Hastert worked closely
      with President Bush, and originally had indicated he
      would retire rather than seek re-election this fall.
      The president prevailed on him to run again though,
      and Hastert agreed.

      Hastert’s tenacious — but plodding — approach to his
      tenure received mixed reviews. He largely shunned the
      talk-show circuit. Critics said he failed to line up
      GOP support for key legislation, including a 1999
      resolution supporting U.S. intervention in Kosovo and
      gun-control measures.

      Although conservative, Hastert became known more as a
      legislative tactician with a pragmatic,
      consensus-building style than as an ideological

      In an effort to keep his fragile, fractured Republican
      majority — and himself — in charge of the House,
      Hastert maintained a dizzying fundraising pace as
      speaker that rivaled the legendary cash-collecting
      abilities of his predecessor, Gingrich.

      He took steps to decentralize the House, allowing
      policy to bubble up through the committees rather than
      being dictated down from the top.

      Hastert won 10 terms by concentrating on issues
      important to his north central Illinois district, a
      mix of far-out Chicago suburbs, farmland and high-tech
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