Outgoing U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) announced today that he WILL NOT run for president in 2008. It was widely rumored that Frist did not seek re-election this year in order to concentrate on a run at the Oval Office.
In a statement released by his Senate office, the Tennessee Republican said he will take a sabbatical from public life. “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,” said Frist, who was a heart and lung surgeon before joining the Senate.
Frist served two terms in the Senate and was elected majority leader in 2002. In this morning’s statement, he said that in the short term he will resume medical mission trips around the world and that he may eventually return to the practice of medicine.
By my count, that leaves about 20-25 total contenders. However, this is certainly the first big shock of the ’08 race.
UPDATE (11/30/2006 3:06 pm): My buddy in Tennessee just reminded me that Frist took a pledge while first running for Senate in 1994 that he would only serve two terms.