Former Gov. Jesse Ventura today quickly dismissed news reports that he's going to run for the U.S. Senate, saying that he won't decide until next week.

A story broadcast this morning on National Public Radio (NPR) quotes Ventura as saying last weekend that he was going to run because he's angered by Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's support for the Iraq War.

"That's the reason I run, not to sell books. I run because it angers me," Ventura says.

But Ventura told the Associated Press today that he was only speaking hypothetically and that no one knows whether he will run, not even his wife.

"I gave [NPR] the reasons why I would run," Ventura said. "But I said ultimately, it will come down to whether I want to change my lifestyle and go to that lifestyle or not."

He reiterated that he won't make his decision until Tuesday, the deadline for filing for office.

After the NPR story was broadcast, ABC News headlined its blog: "Jesse Ventura To Run for Senate."

In the NPR story, University of Minnesota professor Larry Jacobs says that he thinks Ventura could win a three-way Senate race based on recent polls showing that the former governor already has the support of a quarter of poll respondents.

That's higher than the support he had at this point in 1998, when he went on to win election as governor.

State Republican Chairman Ron Carey says in the NPR piece that he thinks a repeat of 1998 is unlikely this year, because Minnesotans are still recovering from "a hangover" left from Ventura's term as governor.

In response, Ventura tells NPR reporter David Welna: "Getting over a hangover? The only hangover they had was the fact that I beat their boy, Norm Coleman, and they suffered a four year hangover from that."

Welna reported that although Ventura has refused to speak to reporters about his plans for months, the former governor agreed to speak to him Sunday in a suburban St. Paul parking lot.

Ventura concludes: "And all you Minnesotans, take a good hard look at all three of us, and you decide -- if you were in a dark alley, which one of the three of us would you want with you?"

He was referring to Coleman and DFL candidate Al Franken, each of whom also were profiled in the report about what Welna called "likely to be the most expensive and most watched Senate race in the nation."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455