Saying he is a modern Paul Revere warning the nation to avoid economic disaster, former Sen. Paul Tsongas, D-Mass., outlined his plans to run for president Thursday.
He also told the National Press Club that he knows his campaign is a "long shot" - with President Bush's approval rating now at 78 percent, and knowing another Greek Democrat from Massachusetts - Michael Dukakis - lost to Bush in 1988."But I am drawn here despite the odds for a reason," said Tsongas, who left the Senate in 1984 to battle and eventually beat cancer - which he said has changed his perspective.
"That reason is purpose. I know where the Democrats must go. I know where America must go. To remain silent is to deny the obligation of my survival."
After Tsongas formally announces his candidacy on April 30 in Lowell, Mass., he will base his campaign on what he sees as America's weakening economy.
"This county needs an economic Paul Revere. I intend to play that role. There is an economic peril and avoiding it will only prevent us from overcoming it," he said.
He said America must stop its deficit spending, which is mortgaging children's futures. He said the Reagan and Bush administrations added $3 trillion to the deficit, watched America develop a huge trade deficit and watched as many American assets are sold to foreign investors.
He blasted Bush saying, "Read my lips, no new taxes: it was great theater. It was great politics. . . . But what he really mean was `Read my lips, add more debt.' Again great politics. Very successful politics. But generationally immoral."
Tsongas added, "Imagine if the Democrats had been in power since 1980. Imagine them running up $1 trillion in trade deficit. Imagine them quadrupling the national debt. Imagine them sitting idly while the country was sold off. No one would be calling for a coronation. They would be shouting, `Throw the bums out.' "
Tsongas said beating cancer changed him because the "old" Sen. Tsongas never would take on such a popular president. But he said what now guides him is not political opportunity, but "love of country beyond personal ambition.