"People don't go to the well of the Senate and become the only senator to vote against something called the 'USA Patriot Act' five weeks after 9/11 because they're trying to get ready to run for president."
That is logic none can argue with, but for Russ Feingold, Senator from Wisconsin, it may have been the beginning of just that. In the last week, Feingold has attracted important allies in his fight against Bush and the renewal of the Patriot Act.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and even Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the original Democratic co-sponsor of the 2001 Patriot Act, are all on his side in this battle.
“The President believes that he has the power to override the laws that Congress has passed,” Feingold said Saturday, “This is not how our democratic system of government works. The President does not get to pick and choose which laws he wants to follow. He is a president, not a king.”
His comments have brought him to the forefront of the challenge against President Bush on the domestic Spying issue which has propelled him directly into the public eye, but can it be enough for a white house run in ’08?
Before this, he was best known for leading the fight for campaign finance reform in the Senate with Republican Senator John McCain. Feingold is also recognized leader in the fight to cut wasteful spending and reduce the nation's growing deficit.
His calm demeanor bears a slight resemblance to that of his childhood hero, John F. Kennedy. He speaks strong, sure, and has plans to back up his words. Unlike others, who just criticize, he actually brings ideas to the table on how to fix the things he is campaigning against. He is against the war in Iraq and has set in a recent proposal a December 31, 2006 target date to “finish the military mission in Iraq and refocus our efforts in the fight against global terrorism.”
Regarding his campaigns against parts of the Patriot Act, he has stated “Nobody wants these parts of the Patriot Act to expire -- we want to fix them before making them permanent, by including important protections for the rights and freedoms of innocent American citizens.”
Whatever happens with the Patriot Act renewal, the mere debate is a boost for Feingold and any presidential aspirations he may have.