AP photo of President Obama
(USA TODAY) - We know a few people who would like to take credit for Barack Obama's successful run for the presidency -- but we didn't know Mike Ditka was one of them.
The former Chicago Bears football coach, a Republican, says that if he had run for the U.S. Senate from Illinois in 2004, he would have beaten Obama and ended his political career then and there.
"Biggest mistake I've ever made," Ditka said during a public appearance in North Dakota. "Not that I would have won, but I probably would have and he wouldn't be in the White House."
Ditka, now an ESPN football commentator, publicly flirted with a Senate run in 2004, but decided against it.
Obama aides past and present scoff at Ditka's presumption.
"Mike Ditka only pretended to run for Senate so he could publicize his restaurant," tweeted former presidential aide Tommy Vietor. "And Obama would've smoked him."