Jackson reportedly rules out a run for the presidency in 1992 Aides advised him to stay on the sidelines. Family concerns, Bush's strength are cited.

August 14, 1991|By Chicago Tribune

NEW YORK -- Two-time presidential candidate Jesse Jackson has told key supporters that he will not run in 1992 and instead will concentrate on winning statehood for the District of Columbia and hosting a cable television program.

"Most of the people who support him don't think he should run," said a longtime Jackson associate who lives in the District of Columbia. "He has run twice. We think that eventually he can run and win. But he shouldn't just keep running and run himself to death.

"We told him that he can find another role to play right through [the 1992 election]," the source said, referring to Jackson's ability to keep certain social issues in the public's view. "He told us don't worry, he was not going to run."

Four of Jackson's advisers, including two who counseled him in his 1984 Democratic presidential bid, agreed to discuss their conversations with Jackson on condition that they not be identified.

Jackson has been known to change his mind in the past, and not everyone was willing to count him out. "If his ego gets the best of him, he might still run," said a former staff member. "I wouldn't ever count him out completely."

Jackson was on his weeklong Rebuild America march through Connecticut yesterday, and neither he nor his press secretary, who was accompanying him, could be reached for comment.

Jackson has said repeatedly that he would not announce his presidential plans until this fall. But that could be a tactic to keep the media spotlight on his various activities. Current and former staff members have said the publicity-savvy Jackson deliberately remained coy in the past about his plans to heighten media interest.

Another source said two major factors contributed to Jackson's decision to pass up 1992 after making two successive bids for the Democratic Party's nomination: George Bush's strength as the incumbent and the strong objection of Jackson's family to another presidential run.

"Nobody in the family wants him to run again," the source said. "They are all solidly against it."

Jackson advisers said they had urged him to focus on three projects: his television talk program, which Cable News Network has picked up after a string of network and independent television stations canceled it this summer; making his National Rainbow Coalition an effective grass-roots force at the state and local level; and winning statehood for the District of Columbia, where Jackson lives after leaving Chicago.

"If Jesse seriously works on statehood -- and believe it or not, he is -- and if he works seriously on grass-roots mobilization issues, he will broaden his base even more than he had before," said one of his close advisers. And that could pave the way for another Jackson run in 1996, when there will almost certainly be no Republican incumbent running for re-election.

If Jackson, who was elected one of Washington's non-voting "shadow senators," is successful on the statehood issue, he stands a good chance of being elected to the Senate from the District of Columbia.

An adviser described Jackson as being "bitter" over how the Democratic Party has treated him in the past. After losing in the 1984 and 1988 primaries, Jackson traveled around the nation to help galvanize black voters for the general election.

"He said he is not prepared to go out and get votes for people like he did before," a source said.

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