Former Sen. Bob Smith eyeing 2014 run
CONCORD - Former Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Smith said he is seriously considering another run for the Senate.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., is running for reelection, and Smith said several activists from across the Republican Party's philosophical spectrum have approached him. Smith lives in Florida but has a summer home in Tuftonboro.
"I am giving it serious consideration," Smith said Friday, but "I have not made a final decision. I have not."
He said he expects to make a decision in the next two to three weeks.
Smith served two terms in the U.S. Senate, but was defeated in the 2002 Republican primary by former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu.
Sununu, who lost to Shaheen in 2008, said earlier he does not intend to seek the Republican nomination.
Smith said the biggest issue for him is the country's huge debt, which both parties helped create. He said he is also concerned about a push for national health care, government spying on private citizens and deficit spending.
"We need leadership to try to head that off," Smith said. "I did have a voting record over 18 years of anti-deficit, anti-debt. I lost that battle, but now we need to turn it around before it is too late."
He said while he has been out of politics for 10 years, he does not want to be a "sunshine patriot" and believes he still has something to contribute to the debate.
Smith said he has been meeting with people, including a small gathering Friday evening, to hear what they have to say, pro and con.
"It's not about me," Smith said. "It's about where the country is heading."
Smith served three terms in the U.S. House before running for U.S. Senate in 1994. He also made a run for President in 2000 before abandoning his quest.
Smith considered running for U.S. Senate from Florida several years ago, but did not get into the race.
Several other candidates have said they are interested in the Republican nomination, and one, conservative activist Karen Testerman, has announced she will seek the nomination.
Others exploring a run include state Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, and former state Sen. and gubernatorial candidate Jim Rubens of Etna.
Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., has also been mentioned as a possible candidate, often appearing in the Granite State and refusing to rule it out, although he is also considering a run for governor of Massachusetts. His family owns a summer home in Rye.