Frist Will Not Seek GOP Presidential Nomination
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) on Wednesday announced that he will not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2008 and will take a "sabbatical" from politics to focus on work related to health care, the New York Times reports. Frist will retire in January 2007 (Zernike, New York Times, 11/30).
According to several sources, Frist made the decision because he had "come to the conclusion that he would have faced a formidable challenge in gaining the nomination, with little assurance of success," the AP/Washington Times reports (AP/Washington Times, 11/30). As Senate majority leader, Frist had a significant role in the passage of the 2003 Medicare law and other legislation supported by President Bush (USA Today, 11/30).
Frist, a heart-lung transplant surgeon, has received criticism from moderates for his role in congressional efforts last year to maintain life support for Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman in a persistent vegetative state, according to the Times. Frist said that he viewed a videotape of Schiavo and that he believed she did not have irreversible brain damage, contrary to the diagnosis of her physicians and the results of a later autopsy.
Frist has received criticism from conservatives for his support of legislation that would expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research (New York Times, 11/30).
In addition, Frist faces an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission over allegations of insider trading related to the sale of his shares of HCA, a hospital chain founded by his family (AP/Washington Times, 11/30).