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David Petraeus for president? He keeps speculation alive.

Army Gen. David Petraeus, credited with devising a counterinsurgency doctrine to save Iraq from chaos, spoke at a Thursday dinner for conservatives and neo-conservatives. He didn't exactly squelch speculation about a possible presidential bid.

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US Army Gen. David Petraeus talks during a press conference in Kandahar city, Afghanistan, April 30.

Allauddin Khan/AP

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Speculation has run rampant for months that Gen. David Petraeus, who heads the US Army’s Central Command and is widely credited with lead authorship of the “people first” counterinsurgency doctrine implemented in Iraq and Afghanistan, is toying with the idea of a run for the White House.

General Petraeus did little to squelch that speculation Thursday night when he spoke at the annual dinner of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), one of Washington’s premier conservative think tanks.

With former Vice President Dick Cheney and members of the Bush-era glitterati known as the neo-cons looking on, Petraeus accepted AEI’s annual Irving Kristol Award, named after the giant of neo-conservatism – a conservative ideology with roots in American liberal thinking that eschews realist foreign policy in favor of an activist and interventionist approach to the world. The highest goal of neo-conservatism is the spread of “American values” including freedom and democracy.

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