Upbeat Dodd enjoys the buzz about his future

Fresh off his back-to-back victories on health care reform and financial overhaul, U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd is weighing his options for what’s next.

Will he become the next president at the University of Connecticut? Will he take a job with the Obama Administration? Or will he fulfill his 5-year old daughter’s wishes and open an ice cream shop?

“And by the way, you can’t retire from that,” he said his daughter Christina warned him when pitching the idea.

Dodd was at an all-time low for support earlier this year when he announced he would drop plans for re-election and retire from the Senate after 30 years.

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Ice cream man? Sen. Chris Dodd with UConn School of Business Dean Christopher Earley and state Sen. Bob Duff (Jacqueline Rabe)

But four months have made all the difference, and he is now taking victory laps for ushering the Wall Street and health care reform bills through the Senate.

The accolades began at a meeting with President Obama at the White House on Friday, and continued at the UConn School of Business in downtown Hartford Monday, where he was praised by local lawmakers and business leaders.

But that rebound isn’t quite enough for him to reconsider his decision  to leave the Senate.

“No, no, no. Believe me,” he said, when asked if would consider getting back into the race now that his popularity seems to be on a upswing and the Democrat who hopes to succeed him is in trouble. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was seen as a sure bet to replace Dodd before issues about his misrepresenting himself as having served in Vietnam surfaced.

Dodd, appearing upbeat and positive, defended Blumenthal, whom he called a friend. And he got in a jab at the endorsed Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon, whose campaign initially claimed credit for the disclosure of Blumenthal’s misstatements.

“He has apologized for these misstatements along the way but his record of service to our state, I think is certainly outweighs the misstatements that he has acknowledged and apologized for,” Dodd said. “In my view it’s been blown out of proportion… And again, considering the source of all of it, it’s a political season.”

So what is the next step for Dodd?

His presence beneath the UConn logo at the business school made questions about his interest in the university’s presidency inevitable. UConn business school dean Christopher Earley said Dodd would make an “excellent choice.”

But Dodd, while admitting he has enjoyed the buzz about his future, said he has been “too preoccupied” to decide.

Playing off his recent lack of popularity among voters, Dodd joked about a recent unscientific Hartford Courant survey on who readers prefer to be the university’s next president.

“I did better in that poll than in other polls,” he said. “I couldn’t help but think that maybe those people actually, actually are opponents of mine who would like me to have that job. It would be very painful for me to have to deal with students, academics… I will wait until January.”

And until January, he said, he will continue to follow the rumors about his next move.