McCain after his win
the campaign ads of the Republican presidential
the campaign ads of the Democratic presidential
Get ready for lots of Gore versus Bush this fall. That's because the majority of voters chose Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George Bush on Super Tuesday, the biggest presidential primary day.
The primary system has evolved over the years. At the beginning of the great American experiment, groups of powerful men sat in "smoke-filled" back rooms to chose a candidate. But starting with Andrew Jackson in 1828, potential presidents worked to open up the process. The 1828 election was the first one where people called delegates went to an event called a convention and voted for the party's candidate.
Primaries didn't directly decide who the delegates would vote for until the 1960's. Now, by choosing delegates who will go to the party convention and vote for a certain candidate, ordinary people make the ultimate choice.
So last Tuesday, Americans from Maine to California, plus the American Soma territory went to the ballot box, and solidly chose delegates who would vote for the leading candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties.
The results put an end to the reformist campaigns of Democratic Bill Bradley and Republican Senator John McCain.
Bradley, who had served as Senator for New Jersey for 18 years, campaigned on bringing change and integrity back to Washington.
For several months last year, Bradley appeared to be a real challenge to the Vice President. Bradley, a Princeton graduate and former professional basketball player, raised nearly equal sums of campaign money as Gore. He even ran close in national polls.
But Bradley lost the Iowa caucus in January, the New Hampshire primary in February, and every primary part of the 16 state Super Tuesday in March.
At his final speech, Bradley expressed thanks to his staff, supporters and politicians who backed him.
"You win and lose. This is a lost and you move on," Bradley admitted.
"We have been defeated. But the cause for which I ran has not been. The cause of trying to create a new politics in this country, the cause of trying to fulfill our special promise as a nation -- that cannot be defeated by one or 100 defeats," Bradley said.
Bradley's issues included universal health care, gun control and an end to child poverty. Bradley aggressively campaigned for a more equal society too and spoke openly about race.
Al Gore, the likely democratic nominee said their rivalry strengthened the Democratic Party.
Bradley, did official endorse Gore, but refused to release the delegates he won in the primaries. He said he wanted the people "deserve their voices to be heard."
On the same day as Bradley pulled out of the race for president, the Republican Senator from Arizona suspended his. Speaking from his ranch in Sedona, Arizona, McCain said," I am no longer an active candidate for my party's nomination for the presidency."
Suspending his campaign, McCain said, would allow him to determine how he could best continue to serve the country and help bring about the changes to the practices and the institutions to our great democracy.
"I am dedicated to the necessary cause of reform. I will take our crusade back to the U.S. Senate, and will keep fighting to give the government back to the people," said the three-term senator.
McCain ran for office on reform agenda. He trumpeted the need for campaign finance reform. McCain argued that special interest groups with lots of money control politics in Washington. McCain also sought to reinstall honor in public service. He used his own life story to energize voters in the Republican primaries.
"I have been in my country's service since I was 17 years old. I neither know nor want any other way of life, for I can find no greater honor than service," McCain offered.
McCain was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1982, then elected to the Senate in 1986. Before the start of his political career, McCain was a captain in the Navy. When the U.S. was at war with Vietnam, McCain was navy pilot, when his plane was shot down in Hanoi. McCain spent almost six years as a prisoner of war.
McCain's war record and his outsider perception helped him win 7 state primaries. He was especially popular in the Northeast. But Bush won primaries in the big delegate states like New York and California.
Bush, the likely Republican nominee congratulated McCain for fighting a good fight. McCain did not endorse his opponent, but said he deserved the best wishes of every American.
McCain and Bradley's entry and withdrawal from the race was big news for both parties. Both candidates attracted voters and discussed issues that had not surfaced in previous elections.
Bradley dealt with big ideas. He talked about feeding every child in America and ensuring healthcare for all.
McCain, talked campaign reform and attracted voters outside the republican mainstream. In fact, McCain attracted record numbers of voters to the primaries.
Now that the field of possible presidents has been limited to two less radical candidates, it's unclear whether Bradley and McCain's reform spirit will affect the debate leading up to the presidential election on Tuesday, November 7, 2000.
Copyright © MacNeil-Lehrer Productions All Rights Reserved