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Keating Rep Reacts To Novak Colum

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A spokesman for the head of the American Council of Life Insurers is scoffing at a press report suggesting that his boss has considered running for president in 2008.

Robert Novak included ACLI President Frank Keating, a former Republican governor of Oklahoma, Sunday in a column that ran in the Chicago Sun-Times.

During a recent lunch in New York with Republican political consultant Ed Rollins, Keating “explored the prospects of his making a run for president,” Novak writes in the column.

Rollins managed President Reagan’s re-election in 1984.

“The rationale for Keating’s presidential ambitions is the absence of a clear and viable right-of-center presidential candidate now that Sen. George Allen has been eliminated by his defeat for re-election in Virginia,” Novak writes. “Keating is a conservative and a prominent Catholic layman who at one time was a prospect to be George W. Bush’s running mate in 2000.”

Keating has been president of the ACLI, Washington, since January 2003. He succeeded the late Carroll Campbell, a former South Carolina governor and member of Congress.

Like many governors, Keating has thought about running for president, but “not very seriously,” says Dan Mahoney, an ACLI vice president for communications. “I wouldn’t read anything into his meeting with Rollins.”

Mahoney, who worked for Keating in Oklahoma, says in a statement that “Frank Keating and Ed Rollins are old friends from the time of Gov. Keating’s service at the Treasury and Justice Departments during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. When in New York, they frequently meet and discuss many topics, including national politics. It should come as no surprise that presidential politics surfaced as a topic of their recent meeting. It was a pleasant and routine get together between two old friends. No future political plans were formulated or discussed.”