|SENATOR BILL BRADLEY|
August 14, 2000
Former presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bill Bradley discusses the Gore-Lieberman ticket, the campaign and his future.
MARGARET WARNER: Welcome, Senator Bradley.
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: Margaret, good to be with you.
MARGARET WARNER: Is it hard for you to be at this convention and watch it nominate Al Gore instead of you?
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: Well, to be honest, I guess I'd rather be speaking on Thursday night, but the voters of this country thought I would speak on Tuesday night, and the DNC accommodated them.
MARGARET WARNER: Quite a few liberal activists in the party, especially over the last week, folks who supported you, have been expressing some unhappiness with the Gore-Lieberman ticket. Do you think they have reason to be unhappy?
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: I think it's time that we unite behind the Gore-Lieberman ticket. I think that in terms of the important things, like what are we going to do with the surpluses over the next five to seven to ten years, I think that the choice is so great that Al Gore and Joe Lieberman want to invest these in health and education and child care, as opposed to giving it back to people on a tax cut that benefits primarily the wealthy, like the Republicans want to do. And I think it makes a lot of sense for people to not grumble, but move ahead and support the ticket because that's the way that we're going to get closer to achieving the agenda that I laid out in my campaign.
MARGARET WARNER: And have you been encouraging liberals in the party to see it that way?
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: Well, anybody that asks me, I certainly do tell them. I'll be meeting with my delegates, and that will be a very poignant meeting. And I'll ask them to support Al Gore.
|What it takes to win|
MARGARET WARNER: Al Gore goes into this behind in the polls, every poll. What do you think is the single most important thing he has to do to win this thing?
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: Well, I think that he's got to lay out a clear vision that's his own, and it has to emanate from who he is as a person. And he has to draw distinctions between him and George Bush. He also, I think, has to make people see the stake in this election, because, you know, the Supreme Court's at stake, social security's at a crossroads. budget surpluses, are we going to use the budget surpluses? These are very big issues, and he has very different views and it's a very different path for America if we go with George W. Bush instead of Al Gore. And I think Al Gore's clearly the better candidate. I don't even think it's a close call.
MARGARET WARNER: And this of course is the night that President Clinton's going to be featured and Mrs. Clinton on the stage. How much of a drag do you think President Clinton and his problems are on Gore?
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: Well, I think that people are going to make a judgment about the future, not the past. I think it's important that the President get out of the limelight and let Al Gore assume the position of the nominee of the party and the leader, potential leader of the party. And I think that once that happens, you're going to find that he's quite capable to respond to that opportunity.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you think that the Clintons have been a little too prominent this weekend? There's been a lot written and said about it. Do you think it's been a little over the top?
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: Oh, who knows. I mean, that's what you write about if you don't have any real pressing news to cover, because I think that the real issue is what's the direction of the country. And what are the differences between George W. Bush and Al Gore? And how will Al Gore convey to the American people what his vision is rooted in his own personality? I think those are the issues.
MARGARET WARNER: Last Friday, as you know, Governor Bush called on Gore to publicly say something more to separate himself from the President's at least personal, moral failings. Do you think he has to do that?
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: You know, I think that that will have to be a decision that he'll make. I think that he's clearly put a lot of pages of testimony on the public record. I think that you'll find that Al Gore runs a campaign that's true to who he is. And I think it will be one that will be rooted in his own sense of tolerance and religious conviction, as well as his view of where the issues take this country and where they should take this country.
MARGARET WARNER: Now you were fairly critical of Gore, needless to say, during the primaries. One, on issues, but also on what you might call character. I mean, you accused him of flip-flopping a lot, of distorting your positions. Do you feel any differently about that now?
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: Well, Margaret, I'm not going to rehash the primary. I think tough things were said on both sides. The real question is the future; the real question is where are we going to go in this country? Is it better to have a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress, or is it better to have a Republican Congress and a Republican President? I don't think it's a close call. When it comes to the things I care about, health care for all Americans, major new investments in public education in this country, major help for working families, dealing systematically and thoroughly with the issue of poverty in our country and pushing hard for campaign finance reform, I don't think that that is any different.
MARGARET WARNER: Any different than?
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: I think that there's a great difference between the two parties on that. I feel confident that a Democratic President would deal with all these issues much better than a Republican President. I mean, a Republican convention, not one word was said about campaign finance reform. And it seems to me that if you're a party that wants to give the American people a fair shake, you want to return politics to the people, you don't just have a virtual reality convention, but you talk about something that's central to the functioning of our democracy, which is reducing the role of money in politics. And not one speaker in that Republican convention admitted that there was even a problem. And I think that shows one of the major differences between the two parties.
MARGARET WARNER: Are you going to talk about that? You've got a major speaking slot here, I think it's 20 minutes, one of the longest ones. What's going to be your message, and are you going to be challenging the party in certain ways?
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: Well, I think we can stay tuned; we'll see tonight. I'm going to talk about Al Gore. I'm going to talk about Democrats and Republicans. I'm going to talk about things that I think are important for the party to do. And clearly one of them are the problems of our democracy. And third... fourth, I'm going to talk about a special message for young people.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you think that the primaries and your battle with Al Gore had any impact on him? Are you able to say, he's moved a little on this because of me?
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: Yes, I am, on issues of poverty, on issues of education, on issues of working families. Since the primaries were over, he moved to positions that I had held. He also has a campaign finance proposal that is reminiscent of one I offered in 1996. So I think that, yes, I think we've had an impact on the process in terms of issues that are now at the center of the campaign, and I set out, for example, to make poverty an issue that neither party could run away from. I never thought I'd see a Republican convention accept the premise, but they did. Now the remedy, of course, is inadequate. The Democratic remedy is the right remedy. But that was, I think, in part because I made that an effort. And then, second, I think that the tone. I think a lot of people haven't been excited about politics for many years got involved in our campaign. And they were essentially people who believed idealism was not dead in the country. That good could triumph over selfishness, that principle could defeat expediency. I said at the time, this is not something that would happen overnight. They felt deeply about it and continue to feel deeply about it. It will be an emotional moment when I release them because of the commitment they made to me based on values we shared.
MARGARET WARNER: So why do you think Al Gore is still, if the polls are to be believed, having trouble with that liberal base in his party?
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: I don't know. I lost the primary. What do I know about that?
MARGARET WARNER: In the primary, going back to some of the things you said, I know you don't want to rehash them, but I mean one of them was, something to the effect of how can we believe a President Gore if we can't believe a candidate Gore? Are you ready to see the Republicans use those statements in ads?
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: Look, I'm not going to rehash the primary campaign. There were tough things said on both sides.
MARGARET WARNER: But how are you going to feel if you see ads showing you saying in a January debate...
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: Well, I figure that people will come to me and I'll be able to tell them very clearly how I feel about Al Gore. I think people get that sense when I speak tonight.
MARGARET WARNER: What do you think of the Lieberman choice?
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: I think it was a very good choice. I think that fear of anti-Semitism should never be a reason not to do something like support and select Joe Lieberman. I think he's an outstanding person, man of great character, someone who is very solid as a thinker and very loyal as a politician. I think he's an excellent number two choice, and I think he helps the ticket.
MARGARET WARNER: And how does he help the ticket?
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: I think that he conveys to a lot of people that Al Gore is someone who is willing to break the mold, to try something different, and do so on the basis of a set of principles about what human beings should be and how they should be treated and what opportunity is in America and how there should be no limits.
MARGARET WARNER: Finally, just a question about you: Have you given up all aspirations to the presidency, or are those still alive?
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: The only thing I'm thinking about truly right now is getting through the speech tonight, and then...
MARGARET WARNER: Tomorrow night.
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: Tomorrow night -- and then campaigning for the ticket and for Democrats across the country. I think the future will take care of itself. I've always viewed America as a three-legged stool. It's the government, it's the private sector, and it's the institutions of our civil society. I'm going to be in a couple of those making a difference; which ones remain to be seen.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Well, thanks very much, Senator. Good luck.
SEN. BILL BRADLEY: Thank you, Margaret.
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