WASHINGTON -- Former Sen. Rod Grams, in Washington for Saturday's inauguration of President George W. Bush, said he knows what now-former Vice President Al Gore is going through.
"We're like Mr. Gore," said Grams, a Republican who is using the trip here in part to explore a possible run against Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn. "We're trying to find out what we're going to do for the rest of our lives."
Grams, still employing the collective "we" that many senators use when referring to themselves, joined a couple of hundred Minnesotans who gathered to watch the ceremony in a House office building. As Grams watched footage of the suddenly former vice president, who lost last year's presidential race despite winning the popular vote, Grams said he could identify.
"Starting today, he's a private citizen," Grams told The Associated Press. "He probably feels like I do -- there was so much more you wanted to accomplish. I know what he's feeling."
Grams, out of office himself for 2 1/2 weeks, conceded that after eight years in Congress, he feels a little "lost."
Still uncertain about his next move, Grams is spending the weekend meeting with officials from Bush's transition team about a possible role in the new administration. During the week, he plans to meet with the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee, about running against Wellstone next year. Wellstone announced last week he would break his two-term pledge and seek a third term.
Grams has not made a decision on whether to run.
Also in attendance at the Minnesota State Society reception was Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who announced that he was one of 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans who will be meeting with Bush at the White House on Tuesday.
Peterson said in an interview that he wasn't told who the other lawmakers were, but he suspected the other Democrats were conservative ones like him.
Peterson, who supports term limits, said he didn't fault Wellstone for seeking a third term.
"I am against an individual member limiting themselves when no one else is," he said. "It's stupid. It wasn't a smart thing for Paul to do in the first place.
"Paul and I don't always agree philosophically, but he has a very strong office, and he's good to work with on Minnesota issues. He'll be more beneficial to us than a freshman senator will be."
Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., contrasted Saturday's inauguration with President Clinton's in 1996, which she also attended.
"Last time the museums were packed with families and college students," she said. "It seems like there's a slightly different feel this time. I'm seeing a lot more mink coats."
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