U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D. (R-Tenn.) on Wednesday said he has decided not to run for president.
Sen. Frist said, "My dad in his later years wanted to impart some wisdom to his grandchildren and great grandchildren he would never meet. One thing he wrote that has stuck with me - in fact been a clarion call to me - was 'there is so much good to do in the world and so many ways to do it.'
“Politics is a noble occupation. Medicine is a noble profession. Service to others underlies both.
“The people of Tennessee elected me twice to the U.S. Senate, and I was humbled and honored by their support and every day I did my best to serve them with integrity and common sense.
“Twelve years ago, I pledged to the people of Tennessee that I would serve two terms in the Senate – to serve as a true citizen legislator – and then return home. I said I’d come to the Senate with 20 years experience in healing, spend 12 years serving in Washington, then go right back to Tennessee to live where I grew up. I’ve never deviated from that commitment. And I will do just that.
“In the Bible, God tells us for everything there is a season, and for me, for now, this season of being an elected official has come to a close. I do not intend to run for president in 2008.
“Karyn and I will take a sabbatical from public life. At this point a return to private life will allow me to return to my professional roots as a healer and to refocus my creative energies on innovative solutions to seemingly insurmountable challenges Americans face.
“We have been blessed with the prayers and support of countless individuals around the country who have shared our vision of making America a better place. We thank you and pledge to represent these values in our daily lives and wherever our journey takes us next.
“I especially thank Karyn, who has honored me with her love every step along the way. And to our sons- Harrison, Jonathan and Bryan and our extended family: your support and love has sustained me both in and out of politics.
“That call from my father still rings true, so we will explore ways to continue to serve outside of politics. Politics for us was never an end - it was a means - a means to serve our country and humanity, to improve lives. And for that opportunity I am truly grateful.
“Karyn and I will seek the best opportunity to serve. I may eventually return to what I’ve done for most of my adult life, heal through medicine and health.
“In the short term, I will resume my regular medical mission trips as a doctor around the world to serve those in poverty, in famine, and in civil war. I will continue to be a strong voice to fix what is broken in our health care system and to address the issues of clean water and public health globally. We will stay actively engaged in policy issues affecting the lives of Americans.
“The time for Karyn and me to leave Washington has arrived and we do so with tremendous respect for the institution of the Senate and for my colleagues, for our government, for our President, for the genius of the American people, and for the enduring principles of freedom and liberty upon which our country has prospered.”
Sen. Frist also sent out this e-mail to VOLPAC members that included some of the same wording:
"I wanted you to hear from me directly, before you heard it on the news.
"Twelve years ago, I pledged to the people of Tennessee that I would serve two terms in the Senate - to serve as a true citizen legislator - and then return home. I said I’d come to the Senate with 20 years experience in healing, spend 12 years serving in Washington, then go right back to Tennessee to live where I grew up. And I will do just that.
"That decision to self-limit my term was grounded then, and rests now, on a firm belief that change in public service and politics is healthy. That it fundamentally forces a perspective of purpose and a sharp focus on service and results. It reminds all participants that they just occupy a position for a period of time. And it liberates one to concentrate every day on serving those who are represented, not to preserve one’s own station.
"I’ve known everyday for the last 12 years that I would spend two terms and no more in the leislative branch. The time for Karyn and me to leave Washington has arrived and we do so with great respect for the institution of the Senate and my colleagues, for our government, for our President, for our democracy, and for the principles of freedom and liberty upon which our country was founded.
"People ask about the future for Karyn and me. What is next?
"We are ready to return to Nashville and private life. We will seek the best opportunity to serve mankind. We will stay actively involved in formulating innovative solutions to the seemingly insurmountable problems that face Americans every day -- high cost of health care, energy dependence, the threat of radical Islam.
"I may return to what I’ve done for most of my adult life: heal through medicine (the way I saw my dad serve since I was a little boy riding around with him, his black doctor’s bag tucked between us, as he’d travel the neighborhood making house calls).
"I, of course, will immediately resume my regular medical mission trips as a doctor around the world to serve those in poverty, in famine, and in civil war. That is where my centeredness is fueled.
"Politics is a noble occupation. Healing is a noble profession. Service to others underlies both. Karyn and I, and our three boys, now three young men, thank you for our opportunity to serve.
"I look forward to continue working with you through VOLPAC. At the beginning of next year, we'll launch a revamped website and internet operation that refocuses our efforts in support of Republican candidates and centers our ongoing discussion on the challenges facing our country.
"To keep the discussion going, I will also launch a national summit or series of summits focusing on important issues such as America’s dangerous dependence on foreign sources of energy and the high cost of health care.
"More details to follow on these ideas and the exciting changes VOLPAC will make in the days ahead."
Sen.-Elect Bob Corker said, “I join all Tennesseans in expressing great gratitude for the tremendous public service that Bill and Karyn Frist have provided to the people of our state and our country. Sen. Frist has given selflessly of his time and energy to tackle the tough and complicated issues that our country has faced. Thanks to his great focus and dedication, he has made a profound impact on the world.
"Because of his distinguished service, as Sen. Frist evaluates his plans for the future, I have no doubt that he will continue to build on his lifetime of service for Tennessee and America.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander said, “Bill Frist has been good for the country and good for Tennessee. Very few Americans have stepped aside from such a high public position with as many important options still open to them. Bill Frist will perform extraordinarily well at any of those he chooses.”
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Bob Tuke said, “I want to congratulate Sen. Bill Frist on his decision not to run for president and to thank him for his public service.
"To be quite candid, his decision reflects the harsh reality of failed Republican leadership, including his own. I'm sure his return to the private sector will bear fruit, and it is my hope he will renew his efforts to combat diseases, such as AIDS, that threaten so many people in this world."
Bob Davis, chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, said, “Sen. Bill Frist is a good man and his tireless service to our state and nation has been marked by honor, integrity, and humility.
“Bill Frist kept his word to the people of Tennessee by only serving two terms in the United States Senate. He has devoted his career to making our country a better place to live and improving the lives of all Americans.
“I am guessing we have not heard the last of Bill Frist, and I wish Sen. Frist, Karyn and their family the very best.”
The Facts On Bill Frist (as released by his office)
Spent 20 years as a doctor, innovating and developing cutting edge techniques to give life and hope to patients with none. Trained at Stanford University under legendary surgeon Dr. Norman Shumway, and was part of the team that revolutionized cardiac care by developing and perfecting heart and lung transplants. Opened the first multi-disciplinary transplant center in the south at Vanderbilt University continued working on and advancing pioneering procedures, including neonatal heart transplantation.
Began his political career in 1994 when he defied conventional wisdom by beating Jim Sasser, an 18-year incumbent slated to become Democrat Leader. A citizen legislator, Frist pledged to only serve two terms and despite rising to Leader, kept that promise.
Six years later, his strong record of delivering for Tennessee was recognized by his constituents, who re-elected Frist with more votes than any statewide candidate in TN history.
As National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman in 2002, Senator Frist again defied conventional wisdom, leading Senate Republicans to majority status.
Shortly after the GOP victory, Frist’s colleagues unanimously elected him Senate Majority Leader. Frist served in that capacity for four years. He was elected to Majority Leader having spent less total time in Congress than any other leader in history.
Continued commitment to medicine and healing through medical mission work around the world. His work in Africa drove him to work with President Bush to establish a $15 billion Global HIV-AIDS initiative.
As a leader and innovative thinker, Frist found solutions by bringing a fresh perspective to Washington. Frist’s strong record of legislative accomplishments includes:
· Substantial tax relief, class action reform and bankruptcy reform
· Prescription drugs for seniors
· Highway funding
· Comprehensive energy legislation
· Confirming President Bush’s commonsense judges – including two Supreme Court Justices – and many other nominees
· Closing the gap in health care disparities for minorities
· Education programs to ensure global competitiveness
· Homeland security initiatives like the Patriot Act, border security funding and bio terror defense bills
· Global water bill that will help eradicate the leading killer of children worldwide – lack of clean water
Key National Accomplishments
Breaking the back of the judicial filibuster – worked to ensure the confirmation of highly qualified judges who interpret the law rather than legislate from the bench by making clear that the constitutional option would be used May 24, 2005, at 2:30 p.m. if Democrats didn’t stop using the judicial filibuster as a tool of obstruction. The result; 7 of the nominees Harry Reid declared dead were confirmed.
Passing the tax cuts that have fueled record economic growth – providing tax relief to hard-working Americans of all walks of life that has helped create more than 5.3 million new jobs, driven unemployment to record lows, stimulated 18 consecutive quarters of economic growth, put home ownership at all time highs, strengthened family bank accounts and close the size of the federal budget deficit. In particular the 2003 tax bill passed the Senate after Leader Frist put together 10 different coalitions of Senators to win 12 votes 51-49 and keep the substance of the President’s tax cuts intact.
Establishing the Medicare prescription drug benefit – giving 43 million Medicare beneficiaries access to affordable prescription drug coverage. For years Congress had struggled with how to bridge political, partisan and policy differences on Medicare and Prescription Drugs. In his first year as Leader, Senator Frist was able to work with democrats, republicans and vested parties, such as AARP, to find common ground and enacted major legislation which gave tens of millions of seniors Prescription Drugs. It also begins to implement his vision of a patient centered, consumer driven health care system for the 21st century by injecting choice, competition and disease management into Medicare for the first time.
Key Tennessee Accomplishments
Sales Tax Deductibility: Corrected a 15 year inequity in the tax code by allowing Tennesseans to deduct their state sales tax expenses from federal income tax returns, saving an additional $500 in taxes for over 640,000 families in the state.
Combating Methamphetamine: Helped enact minimum federal standards restricting access to methamphetamine ingredients in all 50 states, establish a statewide methamphetamine task force and develop a statewide crime tracking system.
Tobacco Buyout: Ended an outdated quota system that hurt Tennessee’s farmers. The buyout provides fair compensation to both quota owners and growers and will bring a total of $767 million to tobacco communities in the state over the next 10 years.
TVA Modernization: Restructured the TVA Board to bring it in line with governing boards of other corporations of similar size and scope. The bill also required TVA to hire a chief executive officer to oversee daily operations in order to allow the Board to focus its energy and attention on long-range planning. In addition, you authored legislation allowing TVA to refinance its debt at lower rates and save roughly $100 million per year. These reforms will help increase accountability and oversight at TVA, which benefits both the utility and its ratepayers.
Science at Oak Ridge: The Spallation Neutron Source will provide the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world for scientific research and industrial development. At a total cost of $1.4 billion, construction began in 1999 and will be completed this year. In 2004, DOE announced the competitive selection of ORNL as the site for the Leadership Class Computing Facility for Science. Over the past three years, you have ensured that sufficient funding was made available to keep development of our nation’s most advanced open science computational facility remains on schedule.
Interstate 69: Personally secured $100 million to construct sections of Interstate 69 in West Tennessee between Dyersburg and Memphis. Prior to the highway bill, you were responsible for securing annual funding to support design, environmental studies and right of way activities.