Denver — Denouncing intense public scrutiny of his personal life, Gary Hart dropped his 26-day presidential campaign Friday. The scrutiny focused on Mr. Hart's character, and included a newspaper article reporting the amount of time he spent on a recent weekend with Donna Rice, a young Miami actress and model. ``I've made some mistakes, I've said so,'' the former Colorado senator said to supporters and reporters Friday. ``Maybe big mistakes, but not bad mistakes.'' But, he said, ``this campaign cannot go on. I refuse to submit my family and my friends and innocent people and myself to further rumors and gossip.''
The Washington Post reported Friday that Hart made his decision to withdraw after the paper presented his staff with ``documented evidence of a recent liaison between Hart and a Washington woman with whom he had had a long-term relationship.'' In his speech, Hart criticized a system that ``reduces the press ... to hunters and presidential candidates to being hunted.'' He insisted issues are more important than personalities. ``I am who I am. Take it or leave it.''