Despite reports that Elizabeth Hanford Dole is being courted to run for Sen. Jesse Helms' Senate seat, Republican leaders said they are committed to Helms until he decides to leave office.
Helms, 79, is expected to announce his decision whether to seek a sixth term by September.
Helms' age and health problems have fed rumors that he may leave office. He suffers from a condition that numbs his feet and impairs his balance, and he had knee-replacement surgery in 1998.
"Sen. Helms has laid down a timetable," said Dan Allen, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "We'll wait until then before anything happens with that seat."