Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist upset expectations Thursday by announcing he wouldn’t run for president in 2008. The field is thinning, but only slightly, with names like McCain, Giuliani, Romney, Brownback, Huckabee and even Gingrich still in the mix on the GOP side.

Los Angeles Times:

Frist, who did not seek a third Senate term this year, had only mixed success in attracting social conservatives to his side.

Tom McClusky, vice president for government affairs of the Family Research Council, praised him for helping confirm two of President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees, John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Frist also was instrumental in securing tougher penalties for violating broadcast decency laws and in prolonging the life of Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged Florida woman who died last year after a court ordered that she be removed from life support systems.

“But it is doubtful that we would have supported him,” McClusky said. The reason: Frist’s support for embryonic stem cell research.

Frist, 54, long had been viewed as a likely 2008 presidential contender. But his fortunes faded as criticism mounted that he was ineffective in his Senate leadership post.

His role in the Schiavo controversy also appeared to hurt his standing, with polls showing that many voters questioned the government’s intervention in the case. He was assailed for publicly questioning the diagnosis that Schiavo was in a vegetative state after he viewed a videotape of the woman.

Despite such setbacks, it was assumed in most political circles that Frist would focus on building a presidential campaign upon leaving the Senate.


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