CHICAGO — Former Bears coach Mike Ditka considered running for the U.S. Senate in 2004 but rejected the idea, a move he now calls "the biggest mistake of my life."
It might have prevented Barack Obama from becoming president of the United States, Ditka says.
Appearing at the opening of an oil facility in South Dakota, Ditka "made several comments about his conservative politics," according to an Oct. 3 report in a local paper, The Dickenson Press.
Referring to his short-lived flirtation with politics, Ditka said of the election: "Not that I would have won, but I probably would have and he wouldn't be in the White House."
Ditka had investigated running for the U.S. Senate, including meeting with the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
At a press conference when Da Coach announced he wouldn't run for Senate in 2004, he said "five, six years ago I would have jumped on it and would have ran with it and I know this, I would have made a good senator because I would be for the people," according to an account in Tribune.
However, he said, "I'll be darn if I want my past or my present or future dragged out in the media."
According to the Tribune account, Ditka then "launched into an unsolicited tirade" about gay marriage.
"What's the matter with right and wrong?" Ditka said. "It's not right. Wrong is wrong."
Obama, then an Illinois state senator, ended up trouncing Maryland native Alan Keyes in the election.
Ditka has said he is "not at all" a fan of Obama.
When Obama was the candidate in his first run for the White House, Ditka declared he was "solid for McCain and Palin.
"I'm a staunch conservative. You can't fool me about socialism and the welfare state," he told CNN.
As for why Ditka was invited to the oil facility opening in South Dakota, he told the Dickenson Press he had "no clue."
"My secretary sets everything up," Ditka said.