"I'm not going to do any Monday-morning quarterbacking," says Heffelfinger, who's also a player in Republican politics. "You've got to give the guy credit for a lot of the tough cases he's taken on... One of the unwritten rules of the job, the standard by which you're judged, is 'Don't embarrass Washington.' Beyond that, the U.S. attorney is afforded a significant amount of discretion as to style. His style has been to be very visible, and that's part of the job to some degree. But there's a very fine line where that visibility can also turn around and bite you in the behind."
"Being a prosecutor is not a popularity contest," Lillehaug says when asked whether he still thinks he'll run for office. "You get a number of scars through the process." He pauses, and his face loses its controlled half-smile. But only for a moment. "I don't know what the future will hold." A few years back, in one of the newspaper profiles, he'd quoted Walter Mondale as saying that politics is "very much like pouring concrete. You can stir it and stir it for a while. But pretty soon it becomes harder to stir and then it's set."