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Ambassador Eliot L. Richardson '41 announced at a press conference yesterday afternoon that he will not be a candidate for Governor of Massachusetts in 1978.
Although state Republican leaders have urged him to run, Richardson, currently U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Law of the Sea Conference, said he "cannot foresee any circumstances" under which he would enter the race, adding that he prefers his present post.
The U.S. is re-examining its role in the conference, and Richardson said if he resigned now "our national interests" would suffer "a serious loss."
Some Republicans have mentioned Richardson as a possible candidate for the presidency in 1980. The ambassador said, however, that although he would like to be president, "it's impossible to plan a political career, and I don't worry about the next step."
According to a Becker Poll published Monday in The Boston Herald American, Richardson is the most popular Republican in the state. In a trial gubernatorial race, the poll showed him with a 10 per cent lead over Gov. Michael S. Dukakis. Much of his strength came from Democrats and Independents.
The poll, which showed other possible Republican candidates trailing far behind both Richardson and Dukakis, encouraged speculation that Richardson might be the only Republican who could defeat the incumbent.
"It's 13 months before the election, and standing in the polls today is of little significance," Richardson said.
Richardson, who held four cabinet posts and received national attention when he resigned as attorney general in 1973 to protest former President Richard M. Nixon's "Saturday Night massacre," said he made his announcement now in order to clear the field for other candidates.
Although the state Republican organization is weak, Richardson said Dukakis "is vulnerable to an effective campaign." He did not say who he favored for his party's nomination.
"The Republican Party needs to overcome its internal differences" to regain power in the state and nation, Richardson said, adding that his current bipartisan post limits his role in helping unify his party.
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