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Will Mitch Run?

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NEW ORLEANS — “I am not already running for president.” He continues, “I haven’t done anything that a person who was running for president would do.”

That’s what the former New Orleans mayor and current whispered-about presidential possibility Mitch Landrieu told me Friday afternoon as we sat at a window table in a hotel restaurant in the city’s French Quarter.

I have known Mitch for a while. I, like most people, call him Mitch. We are both born and raised sons of Louisiana. When he swept into the hotel lobby, greeting and razzing the staff, all of whom seemed to light up at the sight of him, he seemed relaxed, the way a person is when in transition, not beholden to the previous labor nor fully engaged in the next.

The 58-year-old Landrieu has spent 30 years in politics, but he really began to be talked about as a possible presidential contender when he moved to take down Confederate statues in the city and gave a powerful, poetic speech explaining why.

Mitch is now asked about running for president so often that his answers sound like ones that have been honed by repetition, shaved down sharp and smooth.

He recalls a recent exchange he had about the subject:

“Someone said to me the other day, ‘Are you running?’ I said, ‘No.’ They said, ‘That’s what everybody says.’ I said, ‘What do the people who aren’t running say?’ ” We........

© The New York Times