Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley passes White House's bid to re-elect in 2020

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By Mike Memoli

WASHINGTON – Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley will not seek the democratic presidential elections in 2020 and tell NBC News that he believes he can best fight for the issues that are most important to him by living in the Senate.

"I've never been scared of a hard blow," Merkley said in a 45-minute interview on Monday night in his senate hideaway office, recognizing the long odds he would have faced in a crowded field. "The question I asked myself is, can I be more effective at making a difference between those who are in the 2020 primary or by being in the Senate?"

Merkley, 62, was to run in 2020 no matter what – either in a crowded democratic field for president or for re-election to earn a third senate. And when he recently considered his forthcoming itineraries, the decision suddenly came into focus.