Will She Or Won't She? Feinstein Hints at 2018 Run

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Scott Shafer of KQED interviews U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Jan. 18, 2017, two days before President-elect Trump's inauguration. (KQED)

My interview with Sen. Dianne Feinstein began when she sat down in her Washington, D.C., office and offered to show me the scar from her recent pacemaker implant. I had a flash to LBJ showing off to reporters the scar from his gallbladder surgery in 1965.

At 83 years old, Dianne Feinstein is the oldest serving U.S. senator, a distinction she earned when Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) died in 2013 at the age of 89. And despite the sudden pacemaker procedure last week, the California Democrat is still sharp and vibrant, as seen in her recent questioning of Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the nominee for attorney general.

Nonetheless, her age and recent health issues -- and her husband's bout with cancer -- have generated a parlor game among California Democrats, including several would-be candidates to replace her stuck in the starting gate without a jockey.

And so I had to ask Feinstein on Wednesday whether she had made up her mind about seeking re-election.

"If I can produce, and I can produce, and I can continue to produce, then I will continue to produce. If I believe I can’t, either by health or any other way, I won’t, but as long as I believe I can, I will,” Feinstein said. “Is that pretty clear?”

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I said it was, and that to me it sounded like she's ready to run for re-election.

“Well, that’s sort of true,” she said. “I’ll make it formal at an appropriate time.”

Her office insists that the senator was simply saying she'd make an announcement about her decision when it was finally decided. But she certainly sounded like someone who wasn't ready to retire and was still enjoying the spotlight and power she has accrued after 25 years in the Senate.