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Georgia Senator Nunn to retire

Democrats lose another powerful link in effort to recapture Congress

October 9, 1995
Web posted at: 1:15 p.m. EDT

Sen. Sam Nunn

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Long-time Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn became the latest Democrat to bow out of the 1996 campaign when he announced Monday he will not seek re-election at the end of his current term (264K AIFF sound or 264K WAV sound). Nunn's decision deals another blow to Democrats' dim hopes of recapturing Congress next year.

During his long Capitol Hill career, Nunn, 57, built a reputation as the Senate's most knowledgeable point man on defense issues. From 1987 until early this year, he chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee. He has been in the Senate since 1972 after first being elected to the House of Representatives in 1968.

Sen. Sam Nunn

"I know in my heart it is time to follow a new course," Nunn told reporters gathered in the Georgia State Capitol. He said his decision followed "a lot of thought and prayer" and he expressed enthusiasm about meaningful days ahead in the private sector.

"Today I look forward to more freedom, to more flexibility," he said, adding he planned to spend time with his family, to write, and "devote a substantial amount of time" to public policy and public service. He said he has no immediate plans for a presidential bid.

Sen. Sam Nunn

Nunn hailed America as "the greatest country in the world," but cited problems that need attention, including education concerns, illegitimate children, and widespread violence and drugs. He expressed optimism on such items as the strong military and entitlement reform.

Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, who heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign, called Nunn's retirement a "huge loss." It is all the more important because Nunn makes the eighth Democrat to announce retirement plans for 1996, compared with only one Republican.

Nunn predicted a field of "energetic" Democratic candidates to seek his seat. "I do not in any way despair about the Georgia Democratic Party," he said. As for the bigger picture, he said, "The way I see the Republican Contract with America, it is not a purchase by Americans but a two-year lease." Nunn said he will approach the remaining 15 months of his term with fire and enthusiasm (136K AIFF sound or 136K WAV sound).

While the senator's announcement disappointed Democrats, it came as little surprise. Nunn originally planned a statement last week, but opted to wait after it was announced the O.J. Simpson verdict would be announced the same day.

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