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Jackson May Run for President Again

April 20, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Jesse Jackson, who twice sought the Democratic presidential nomination, is considering another run for the White House, his organization said Monday.

Jackson is considering whether to put together an exploratory committee, and is expected to make a final decision on his candidacy in November, said Ken Jakubowski, spokesman for Jackson’s Chicago-based organization, the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition.

``Reverend Jackson would not float an idea unless he were deadly serious about it,″ Jakubowski said. ``The time has come to take what has been private discussions for the past year public. This is not a frivolous exercise.″

Jackson will test his potential appeal among voters next weekend in a visit to Athens, Ohio, that will focus on ``the class gap″ between rich and poor Americans, a theme that has strains of his two previous campaigns in 1984 and 1988. The trip is the first in a series of such visits around the country, Jakubowski said.

``During this process, we make a very careful analysis and a decision over the next few months on whether it will make sense to run for president,″ the spokesman said.

If he does decide to run, Jackson would join a field of contenders that includes two of his 1988 Democratic opponents: House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt and Vice President Al Gore.

Jackson, 56, currently serves as President Clinton’s envoy for democracy in Africa. He has never held elective office but served as a ``shadow senator″ earlier this decade for the District of Columbia, which has no voting representation in Congress. His son, Jesse Jackson Jr., is a Democratic congressman from Illinois.

Jakubowski would not say whether Jackson discussed his possible candidacy with Clinton, who is expected to support Gore. He said Jackson is interested in running again because he wants to force issues affecting the poor onto the national agenda.

``Of those who are talked about as potential candidates, we don’t see much commitment to these issues at this point,″ Jakubowski said. ``Therefore, we’re going to try to push these issues.″

Jackson will hold a town hall meeting at Ohio University in Athens on Saturday, deliver a sermon at the First United Methodist Church on Sunday then meet with student leaders Monday before taking a bus tour of the foothills of Appalachia, Jakubowski said.

His bus tour will stop at the Athens County Human Services Office and the Appalachian People’s Action Coalition, an outreach center for businesses launched by the rural poor.