Updated March 7, 2003
Feingold's advocacy of campaign finance reform is not the only time he has stood against prevailing currents. On October 25, 2001 he was the lone Senator to vote against the counter-terrorism bill, citing concerns about infringements on civil liberties. President Bush signed the bill, which passed the House by a vote of 357-66 and in the Senate by 98-1, the next day. Filmmaker/author Michael Moore singled Feingold out as a "Profile in Courage" for this vote. Feingold took another maverick stand early in 2001 when he was one of eight Democratic Senators to support confirmation of John Ashcroft as Attorney General.
During the 107th Congress, Feingold served on the Judiciary, Foreign Relations, and Budget Committees, as well as the Special Committee on Aging; he was chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee (Judiciary) and the Africa Subcommittee (Foreign Relations). Feingold keeps in touch with constituents in Wisconsin by holding "Listening Sessions" in each of the state's 72 counties each year.
Feingold began a College Tour on November 11, 2001, which had him travelling nationally and fueled some speculation. He spoke on the theme "What We Can Do For Our Nation." (Initial stops: Nov. 11 - University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; Nov. 19 - University of Iowa in Iowa City; Nov. 26 - University of Texas at Austin; Jan. 14 - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Nonetheless Feingold minimized his interest in a presidential run; for example, according to a January 22, 2002 AP article he put the odds at 1 in 100. Feingold also visited the key state of New Hampshire back on April 23, 2001, on a trip that was primarily focused on appearances in Maine with Sen. Collins. He toured Timberland footwear, met with Gov. Shaheen, and spoke with College Democrats at the University of New Hampshire. Feingold's visit there during the 2000 campaign prompted several students to form the "Feingold Fan Club" 1.
Feingold made a low-key announcement that he would not run for president
on the night of March 1, 2003 while celebrating his 50th birthday at the
Harmony Bar in Madison, Wisconsin. This was first reported by WisPolitics
on March 5; Feingold later explained to the Wisconsin State Journal
that he did not want to put his Senate seat at risk (he faces re-election
in 2004) and that "it would take probably something close to a miracle"
for a presidential campaign to work out.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Copyright © 2001, 2002, 2003 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action