Beatty hints at lead role in White House

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HE HAS glamour, charisma, name recognition and plenty of money. He has been fascinated with politics for 35 years and runs around with some of the most influential power-brokers in the land. He has even played a presidential candidate, albeit a somewhat loopy one, in one of his more memorable recent screen roles. So what is to stop Warren Beatty from making a real-life run for the White House?

Maybe nothing. In a teasing interview with The New York Times yesterday, the 62-year-old Hollywood actor-director dropped a large hint that he might run for the world's highest political office. Indicating that he had been approached, he suggested modestly that he was not necessarily the best candidate, but added: "That's not to say that I don't have very strong feelings on a lot of things that aren't being spoken."

According to the interviewer, Richard Berke, Mr Beatty "resisted several opportunities to dispute that he had designs on the White House". "If I said to you: `This is something that I would be considering'," Mr Beatty said enigmatically, "then your headline is, `It's something I would be considering'."

Mr Beatty has been active in the Democrat Party since the Sixties, and was closely involved in George McGovern's unsuccessful campaign to unseat Richard Nixon in 1972. According to the newspaper article, he has been approached by friends pushing to reform political campaign financing to challenge the presidential hopefuls. "He's thinking about this very seriously," said Ellen Miller of the Washington advocacy group Public Campaign. "There's a hunger out there for a non-politician."

But his friends are having trouble taking him seriously. "It's helpful for his image," said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst and old friend. "My guess is he wouldn't risk the humiliation, though. He's much too intelligent to put himself out there and be embarrassed."

Is he for real?

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