Talk made of Feinstein presidency |

Talk made of Feinstein presidency

Dianne Feinstein for president in 2004?

It’s an intriguing idea but premature, her aide said Tuesday.

California’s senior U.S. senator, a Democrat characterized as a centrist in political circles, left a toehold of a door open for such a venture.

“If Sen. Feinstein decides to run, she’ll make an announcement at the appropriate time,” spokesman Scott Gerber said, relaying her response to a column that ran Sunday in a Bay Area newspaper.

It cites Feinstein as the one candidate who could save the Democratic Party with her clout, experience and tie to the women’s vote.

Making an unconventional leap, San Francisco freelance writer Richard Rapaport essentially said it’s time in this day and age for a woman as president.

The 2004 campaign marks the fifth presidential election since Democrats brought forth Geraldine Ferraro as Walter Mondale’s running mate.

Feinstein comes to the table with a record of negotiating in the middle, a standing ground that appeals to moderates and often results in legislation.

But there’s more of a human factor.

Feinstein’s history has been the subject of books surrounding San Francisco politics.

Reminiscent of Lyndon B. Johnson’s sudden oath of office, Feinstein became the city’s mayor after the 1979 assassination of then Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. She found Milk’s body.

Former aide Jim Hock said Feinstein “never quite got over that.”

On Tuesday, Gerber admitted losing the Senate with the resultant shift in the balance of power represents hard times for Democrats, but “we’re feeling our way.”

“We’re still pursuing our agenda, and we’ll go from here,” he said.

Tessa Hafen, spokeswoman for Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., agreed with a pledge to continue the party’s agenda, despite losing the Senate majority to the Republicans.

“We’re very disappointed in the loss. But our position hasn’t changed,” she said, speaking for the outgoing assistant majority leader. “We’ll still fight for it, but not being the majority makes it harder.”

Still, Hafen reaffirmed Reid’s commitment to run for re-election in 2004.

“We have a lot to learn in what went wrong,” she said. She defined the defeat as one in which Republicans thrived “in getting the vote out,” coupled with President Bush’s high approval rating.

There’s frustration in the message of a flailing economy lost in news of going to war with Iraq.

“All (that) people have wanted to talk about is Iraq, the Washington sniper and homeland security. It’s really hard to talk about the economic situation,” she said.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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