* Acknowledges commentary stirred friction at CNN
* Vows to keep expressing views in ‘public arena’
By Tim Gaynor
PHOENIX, Nov 19 (Reuters) - A week after abruptly quitting his longtime job as a CNN television news host and commentator, Lou Dobbs said on Thursday he is considering career options including possible runs for the White House or U.S. Senate.
“Right now I feel exhilaration at the wide range of choices before me as to what I do next,” Dobbs, whose outspoken views on immigration and other topics often angered liberals, told Reuters in a telephone interview from New York on Thursday.
Dobbs, 64, a veteran CNN anchor who had become one of the most divisive figures in U.S. broadcast journalism, announced last Wednesday he was leaving CNN after spending the better part of 30 years at the 24-hour cable news network.
He still hosts a daily radio show.
A Texas native, Dobbs has drawn fire from Latino leaders and civil rights groups for frequent on-air remarks about U.S. border control and immigration that critics saw as demonizing illegal immigrants.
He was also seen as lending credence to the “birther” conspiracy theory, whose adherents believe President Barack Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate was faked to hide a Kenyan birthplace that would make the first black U.S. president ineligible for his office.
Dobbs acknowledged his commentary also stirred friction with CNN executives.
Discussions with CNN/U.S. President Jonathan Klein made it clear Dobbs’ style of combining news and opinion was untenable at the network, Dobbs said.
“They wanted to reverse direction on my show from what had been a news debate and my opinion to a middle-of-the road, as Jon Klein styled it, non-opinion show,” he said.
“It was just not gratifying to me to sit there and read a news show — and I much prefer to be more engaged.”
Dobbs vowed to carry on expressing his views “fully and straightforwardly in the public arena no matter what I decide to do next.”
Since his departure, some have speculated he might run as a candidate for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey, where he has a home, or even run as a third-party candidate in the 2012 U.S. presidential elections — options he says remain on the table.
“I am ruling nothing out. ... I have come to no conclusions and no decisions,” he said. “Do I seek to have some influence on public policy? Absolutely. Do I seek to represent and champion the middle class in this country and those who aspire to it? Absolutely. And I will.” (Editing by Steve Gorman and Todd Eastham)