Dodd drops presidential bid

DES MOINES, Iowa "Tonight I am withdrawing from the presidential race but let me assure you, we are not ending this race with our heads hanging but with our heads held high," Dodd told about 100 supporters here.

"I am not going anywhere," he added, to loud cheers. "I will be fighting for the United States."

Some of Dodd's supporters wiped away tears as he spoke.

"I am very, very disappointed," said Eva Bunnell, from East Haddam, Conn., who came to Iowa to volunteer for Dodd. "If the people had the opportunity to get to know him and look at his record more closely, they would see he's a great man."

John Feller, from Des Moines said: "I am sad. Very sad."

Dodd was never able to break from the pack of Democratic contenders despite his long and distinguished Senate career. He won just 0.02 percent of the state's caucus-goers. He even had taken the drastic step of moving his family to Iowa weeks before the caucuses.

At 63, Christopher John Dodd is at an age that's considered prime for both presidential candidates and U.S. senators. And yet, Dodd's true-blue liberalism, his thick white-mane and his background as the scion of a politically-prominent, Irish-American family from New England conjures images of a bygone political era.

Dodd is the son of Thomas J. Dodd, a lead prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals after World War II and a U.S. senator from Connecticut for 12 years.

Three years after his father's death, "Chris" Dodd was elected to the House from Connecticut's 2nd congressional district in the post-Watergate election of 1974. He served three terms before winning the Senate seat vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Abraham Ribicoff in 1980.

In his 32 years in the House and Senate, Dodd has forged strong ties with labor unions, tried impose fiscal accountability on corporations and championed family and children's issues.

Dodd was the chief Senate sponsor of the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, or to tend to a personal or family illness. He also helped rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, worked to create after-school initiatives and has introduced legislation to reform the 2002 No Child Left Behind law.

Dodd was a driving force behind the 2002 law that toughened disclosure and conflict-of-interest rules for accounting firms in the wake of securities fraud scandals. He also helped write a terrorism insurance bill, an issue important to his state's insurance industry.

A fluent speaker of Spanish, Dodd served in the Peace Corps in a rural village in Dominican Republic from 1966-68 and has had a strong interest in Latin American affairs throughout his career. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's western hemisphere subcommittee, he's been able to wield a heavy influence on U.S. involvement in the region.

Dodd strenuously opposed the Bush administration's choice of Otto Reich as the State Department's top diplomat in Latin America. Dodd and others criticized Reich's work in the 1980s as a State Department official heading an office accused of putting out illegal domestic propaganda against Nicaragua's Sandinista government.

Although he is firmly positioned in his party's liberal wing, Dodd is noted for a willingness to compromise that has made him capable for forging coalitions with members of both parties.

His role as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee - which oversees the nation's banking, financial services and insurance industries - gives Dodd somewhat of a fundraising advantage compared to other longshot 2008 prospects.

Dodd and his first wife, Susan Mooney, divorced in 1982 after 12 years of marriage. In 1999, Dodd married Jackie Marie Clegg, a former Export-Import Bank official. The couple have two daughters.

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