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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In the middle of a speech focused largely on the presidential race, Republican policies and propositions back home, U.S. Sen Dianne Feinstein took a few minutes to talk about her own bid on the ballot this year.

"As an aside," she said at breakfast for members of California's Democratic National Convention delegation. "I'm also running for re-election."

"I didn't know if I would do that or not, but I did," the 79-year-old Democrat added over the applause. "I believe my work as a United States senator is not yet complete."

Feinstein, who is seeking a fourth full term in the Senate, pledged to continue to protect abortion rights, fight for new legislation to renew the federal assault weapons ban and pursue an overhaul of immigration laws. She also spoke of continuing her work as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In an interview with reporters after the talk, the senator dismissed the notion that she considered not running again this year. She said she always intended to be a candidate and will "absolutely" fill out her six-year term if elected again.

Feinstein's campaign has shot down Republican challenger Elizabeth Emken's requests to debate. The senator would not discuss the decision with reporters after her speech.

"I'm running my own campaign and that's really my only comment," she said.

But given her remarks to the delegates, she isn't too worried about the competition. Feinstein, who maintains strong leads over Emken in fundraising and polls, urged delegates to lend a hand to Democrats running for U.S. Senate in "critical" races outside California.

"These are big races. These are close races. And winning a large number of them puts the Senate in Democratic hands," she said. "So please, I hope you'll walk that walk. I hope you'll support these candidates."


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