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S.D. senator back 8 months after falling ill

August 29, 2007|From the Associated Press

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Sen. Tim Johnson, speaking slowly and slurring some words in an appearance more than eight months after experiencing a life-threatening brain hemorrhage, announced Tuesday to state residents: "I am back."

In his first public appearance since falling ill, the 60-year-old Democrat spoke for about 15 minutes to a cheering audience at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.

Johnson's face and his speech clearly showed the effects of the trauma, but he used his sense of humor to assure supporters he will be back in the Senate soon. Aides said he was expected to return Sept. 5.

"Hard work is something in which I take great pride. So, let me say this tonight going forward: I am back," he said.

"Of course, I believe I have an unfair edge over most of my colleagues right now. My mind works faster than my mouth does. Washington would probably be a better place if more people took a moment to think before they spoke."

The senator, who has not officially said whether he is running for reelection in 2008, hinted that he would. "My will to keep fighting for you has never been stronger," he said.

He went further in an interview to be aired Tuesday on ABC News' "Nightline."

"I plan on it," he told reporter Bob Woodruff, according to a transcript of the interview. "I expect to run and to win."

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