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Nebraska senator denies plans to leave the GOP

WASHINGTON -- Don't count on the possibility that Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, might run for president next year as an independent.

In May, Hagel said people might want to consider an independent ticket that paired the senator with Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City .

Last month, Bloomberg quit the GOP, and registered as unaffiliated.

Hagel said yesterday he has no intention of leaving the Republican Party.

"That doesn't mean, by the way, that I don't think an independent does not have some renewed possibilities next year," he added.

Asked in a broadcast interview if he were ruling out an independent bid for the White House, the two-term senator said, "For right now I am. And what the world looks like next year, I don't know. But I have no plans to change parties or run for president as an independent."

Later, however, he hedged a bit.

"You try to keep as many options open for yourself in life as you can. And you try to be in a position where you've got some opportunities," he said.

Hagel faces reelection next year and said he would decide in the next few months about his political future, including a presidential run. In May he said the Republican Party had been led astray by some and it might be time for an independent presidential ticket.

He explained that the GOP no longer was the party of "Eisenhower, of Goldwater, of Reagan," but rather a group hijacked by "single-minded, almost isolationist insulationists, power-projectors." (AP)

Edwards to visit poor areas
WASHINGTON -- John Edwards plans to visit parts of the country beset by poverty, a leading issue in his Democratic presidential campaign.

His three-day swing on his "Road to One America" tour will take him through New Orleans, Memphis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and eight other cities and eight states beginning today.

The former North Carolina senator said the makeup of the poor has changed in the past 40 years to include a wide range of ages and ethnic and regional backgrounds.

"Many are hard-working men and women with full-time jobs who are still struggling to make ends meet. And their numbers are growing," he said.

Edwards also plans to visit towns hit by the loss of manufacturing jobs and cities with suburban poverty.

In 2005, Edwards helped create the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina law school. (AP)

Crist dismisses rumors
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stirred up speculation that Governor Charlie Crist will be on his list of potential running mates, but Crist dismissed the idea yesterday as "silly talk."

Romney, former Massachusetts governor, was asked during a West Palm Beach event Saturday if he was thinking about a running mate.

Romney said it would be presumptuous to talk about that now, but he said Florida has great leaders, including the current governor, former governor, and Republican senator. That's Crist, Jeb Bush, and Mel Martinez.

"People talk about things all the time, you know how politics are. I just consider it silly talk," Crist said yesterday . When asked if he would consider running for vice president if eventually asked, he said, "There's nothing to consider." (AP)