Retiring Sen. Jim McClure says he has discussed the chairmanship of the Republican Party with President Bush but denied a report Bush asked him if he would take the job.

The Washington Post, quoting unnamed sources, said Thursday McClure was one of three prominent Republicans approached about serving as GOP chairman but asked that they not be considered.Bush is searching for a new chairman after his earlier choice, former drug czar and Education Secretary William Bennett, changed his mind last month and said he would not accept the $125,000-a-year job for financial reasons.

The other candidates who turned down the job, according to the Post, were Craig Fuller, Bush's chief of staff when he was vice president, and Mitchell Daniels, a former White House political director.

McClure said he has discussed the job with both Bush and White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, a former governor of New Hampshire.

The Post said McClure met with Bush shortly before Christmas and McClure "declined when asked if he were interested in the post."