NEW YORK (AP) - Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd announced Thursday he will run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, saying problems at home and abroad meant it was time for him to "get out of the bleachers and onto the arena floor."
Dodd, a 26-year Senate veteran, told the "Imus in the Morning" radio show he will file paperwork to establish a campaign committee later in the day.
"I know how to do this. I know what has to be done. I'm going to get out and make my case," Dodd said. He described himself as a dark horse in a Democratic field dominated by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama - neither of whom have yet entered the race.
"There's a heightened sense of urgency about the condition of the country. But it isn't just Iraq - there are problems here at home that are huge," Dodd said. He said he planned to focus on issues like education, energy policy and health care in his campaign. Dodd planned to travel late Thursday to Iowa, home to the first nominating caucus in January 2008. On Sunday, Dodd intended to visit South Carolina, an early primary state.
Several other Democrats have already entered the race or are expected to do so soon.
Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who leaves office Friday, has announced his presidential candidacy, as have former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Delaware Sen. Joe Biden. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson also probably will run.
Dodd's career in Washington began in 1974 when he was elected to the House in the wake of the Watergate scandal. His father, Thomas J. Dodd, served two terms in the Senate; the younger Dodd won a Senate seat in 1980.
Dodd has forged strong ties with labor unions, advocated fiscal accountability for corporations and championed education and other children's issues. This month, he became chairman of the influential Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Dodd voted in 2002 to authorize military intervention in Iraq, but has become an outspoken critic of the war and now calls his vote a mistake. He has said he would oppose an escalation of U.S. forces in Iraq and has said Congress should consider withholding funding for such a troop increase. Dodd has been politically active on behalf of other Democrats, raising money and campaigning for candidates across the country and headed the Democratic National Committee from 1995-96. Dodd and his wife, Jackie Marie Clegg, have two daughters, age 5 and 22 months.