Nelson says leaving Senate doesn't mean retirement

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson says he decided to leave the U.S. Senate after 2012 because he wants more free time, not because he's retiring.

Nelson told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he's not sure what's next, but he's sure he'll have another opportunity to serve.

The 70-year-old centrist Democrat and former governor announced his decision not to seek another term Tuesday. His departure is expected to make it easier for Republicans to win the only seat in Nebraska's congressional delegation that hasn't already gone to the GOP.

But Nelson says he doesn't think it's too late for Democrats to run.

He says he's also confident he could have won himself, saying his poll numbers have improved despite being hammered by conservatives for supporting the federal health care overhaul.

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