"I have never wavered in my determination to the best job.. for our state," Dodd said, standing in front of his Connecticut home. "The past year has raised some challenges that insisted I take stock of my life."
The senator cited his battle with cancer over the summer, the death of his sister and the death of his friend, Sen. Ted Kennedy. He also acknowledged that he has become increasingly unpopular in the state.
"I'm very aware of my present political standing here," he said.
The powerful senator's re-election chances became unsteady a couple years ago, when his polling numbers began to sink amid his bid for the Democratic nomination for the presidency, his connections to a controversial mortgage loan program and his high profile role as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
"I have been a Connecticut senator for 30 years. I'm very proud of the job I've done and the results I've delivered," Dodd said. He added, however, "None of us is irreplaceable... This is my moment to step aside."
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is expected to announce his bid for Dodd's seat at 2:30 this afternoon. Blumenthal is a very popular figure in Connecticut politics and is expected to be a much stronger candidate thanDodd.
To predict how Dodd would fare in an election nearly a year from now "would be absurd," he said. Yet the circumstances in his life caused him to take pause and ask "Why am I running?" he said.
He asked himself this question, Dodd said, upon visiting Kennedy's Arlington Cemetery grave after casting his Christmas Eve health care vote. He called it "one of themost important, if not the most important, vote in my years in the United States Senate."
President Obama issued a statement praising Dodd for his decades of service, from his work as a young Peace Corps volunteer to his five terms in the Senate.
"Over the years, he has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of our children and families, support good jobs for hard-working Americans, and keep our nation strong and prosperous, building a remarkable record of achievement for the people of Connecticut and our country," the president said. "While his work in the Senate is not yet finished, his leadership in that institution will be missed."