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Bill Bradley on Principles & Values

2000 Democratic Primary Challenger for President


Endorses Howard Dean, citing free-media presence

Howard Dean, who stunned the Democratic establishment last month when he won the backing of former Vice President Al Gore, will pick up another key endorsement from former Sen. Bill Bradley. Bradley, who challenged Gore for the 2000 presidential nomination and came close to winning the New Hampshire primary, has been talking with Dean for several months. The endorsement is said to have been in the works for several weeks, although sources say Bradley signed off on the move only last weekend. In a recent interview, Bradley said Dean “has the strongest free-media presence [of the Democratic contenders] and he has managed to broaden that to a broader protest and critique of the Bush administration. ”The last things he got to do, he has to be able to broaden that to a broader agenda, more than simply anti-war,“ Bradley added. ”And he has to have an aspirational component to what he is saying so that people will feel that they are empowered by him to be as good as they can possibly be.“
Source: John Mercurio, CNN.com , Jan 6, 2004

The journey from here to change the world

To all these young people who believe that America can be just, I say, Never give up and never sell out. You don’t have to give up your idealism to be successful in America. You don’t have to become complacent. To the contrary, you should be angry with the state of our democracy, the conditions of poverty, the absence of universal health care, the continuation of racism; and if you get angry enough and are smart enough and work hard enough, you can change things. You don’t have to give up what you truly believe so as not to offend power, for real power lies within each of you-the power to mobilize an army of citizens who want to change the world. Yes, want to change the world! That’s what I tried to do in my campaign. I lost. But all of you don’t have to lose; you can triumph over ignorance and spitefulness, corruption and greed. You can take the high road and succeed, if wnough of you take it together.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.165 , Sep 9, 2000

Presidential campaign was about telling the truth

My campaign was based on the radical premise that you can say what you really believe and win. What I tried to do was offer a new politics-a new politics that isn’t polluted by money; a politics in which leaders speak from their core convictions; a politics that is about lifting people up, not tearing opponents down; a politics that reflects the best of what is in us as Americans; a politics that inspires all of us to try to live up to our potential as citizens.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 14 , Aug 15, 2000

The journey from here is to change the world

You don’t have to give up what you truly believe so as not to offend power, for real power lies within each of you-the power to mobilize an army of citizens who want to change the world. That’s what I tried to do in my campaign. I lost. But all of you don’t have to lose; you can triumph over ignorance and spitefulness, corruption and greed.

When I think of my own future, I feel the presidential campaign was part of a longer journey. To raise people’s living standards worldwide, to reduce racial and ethnic tensions, to acknowledge that we’re better than we think as citizens and human beings-this is where I’ll try to continue my efforts to advance our collective humanity.

It heartens me to know that I’m not alone. With me are millions of people from all walks of life who are prepared to act from principled common sense and continue the journey from here.

Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.165-66 , Aug 15, 2000

Withdraws, supports Gore; “time for unity”

Following the results on Tuesday night, I’ve decided to withdraw from the Democratic race for president. And while I’m bowing out, I’m not releasing the delegates that are on my side. They’ve been loyal supporters and deserve to have their voices heard.
The vice president and I had a stiff competition, and he won. I congratulate him. He will be the nominee of the Democratic Party, and I will support him in his bid to win the White House, and this morning I called him and told him all that.
It is the tradition of the Democratic Party to fight hard during primaries and then unify and close ranks behind the nominee as soon as the people have spoken. And now it is time for unity. Democrats know that the offerings of the likely Republican nominee and his party are the opposite of where our country should be headed. I will also continue to work for a new politics and for the values I laid out in the campaign.
Source: Announcement of withdrawal from race , Mar 9, 2000

Conviction of “creating a new politics” survives losing race

What do I mean by “creating a new politics” in America? I mean a politics that’s not polluted by money; a politics in which leaders speak from their core convictions and not from polls or focus groups; a politics that’s about lifting people up, not tearing your opponent down; a politics that inspires us all to live up to our potential as citizens and human beings. A politics that listens more closely to the voices that are not usually heard, a politics that has a special responsibility to leave no one behind.
The values I cherish and laid out in this campaign are embodied in issues such as access to health care for all Americans, elimination of child poverty, bold steps to get guns off of our streets, genuine racial unity, education that works for everyone and fundamental campaign finance reform. These are not and never have been political slogans for me. They are and always have been my convictions, convictions I do not change because an election is won or lost.
Source: Announcement of withdrawal from race , Mar 9, 2000

Leaves race with respect for people over “politics as usual”

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. I want to leave this race the same way I got in: with a minimum of politics as usual, and a maximum of respect for the American people & their dreams. I believe these dreams can be the foundation of a new politics that can truly make our country soar. Thank you.
Source: Announcement of withdrawal from race , Mar 9, 2000

No nickel-and-diming, no nibbling around the edges

He casts himself as an FDR for the 21st century, a daring leader who would “liberate our democracy” from the tyrannies of dollar-driven politics, child poverty, and handgun violence. No “nickel and diming,” Bradley says [everywhere he goes]. No “nibbling around the edges.” From revolutionizing the health care system to bridging the racial divide, Bradley envisions “big things” for the country, “bold things,” and says he harbors the presidential leadership skills to achieve them.
Source: Boston Globe, p. A29 , Jan 30, 2000

Should we take risks? If not now, when? If not us, who?

People accuse me of offering big ideas that they say are risky. I say that the real risk is not doing the things that I’ve set out to do in this campaign. The real risk is doing nothing about gun control. about reducing child poverty.. The real risk is ignoring the people who don’t have health care.. That’s the real risk in America. If we can’t afford to do these now, when will we ever be able to do them? If not now, when? If not us, who?
Source: Television advertisement in NH & Iowa , Jan 13, 2000

Religion is too private for politics

Q. Should religious beliefs be a private matter on the campaign trail? A: In 1978, I was running for the Senate. I was running against a Republican. And in the general campaign, he converted to Catholicism. And New Jersey is a highly Catholic state. I [stayed] away from that. A person’s religious faith belongs to them. This is not a new decision on my part. These are decisions I’ve held throughout my public life because I think religious faith is the most personal belief system that any individual has
Source: Democratic Debate in Durham, NH , Jan 5, 2000

Politics is a means to an end, not the end

Q. It sometimes appears that you are aloof and dislike the realities of politics. A: I have never shied away from politics when it came to getting something done. and I think young people in this country have to know that their elected officials are in this game because they believe that’s the way to make America a better place. That’s why I’m in politics and I’ll practice politics to achieve objectives like health care access to all Americans & fundamental gun control.
Source: Democratic Debate in Durham, NH , Jan 5, 2000

Mistakes are learning opportunities, even for a president

Q: How large of a mistake can a president make? A: If you want me to admit to a mistake, so that I can pass this litmus test, I’ll admit to a mistake. I voted against Alan Greenspan the first time. But you know, someone once asked Sam Walton, the head of Wal-Mart: “How do you be successful?” He said by making the right decisions. “How do you get the right decisions?” He said with experience. “How do you get experience?” He says making the wrong decisions. So I think you learn from your mistakes.
Source: Democratic Debate in Durham, NH , Jan 5, 2000

Personal faith is private, even for a president

Q: What about candidate’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ? A: I think that a person’s religious faith is the deepest, most intimate aspect of their lives. I think when someone makes an open expression of their faith, it is something that I respect. But each politician then has to decide how they handle this in a world where you’re running to be president. In my own case, I’ve decided that personal faith is private, and I will not discuss it with the public.
Source: Town Hall Meeting, Nashua NH , Dec 18, 1999

Themes: Health insurance, racial unity, child poverty

Q: What is the one most compelling reason that I should vote for? A: If you care about fundamental campaign finance reform, if you care about increasing the number of people in America with health insurance, if you care about racial unity in America, if you care about reducing the number of children in poverty in America, and you care about managing the economy so that growth takes more and more people to higher economic ground, then I would hope you’d feel that I would be your candidate.
Source: Democrat Debate at Dartmouth College , Oct 28, 1999

Private sector for 2 years made him ready to lead America

Q: Why is the time right now for you to come back into national politics? A: [After leaving the Senate,] I worked in the private sector. I taught at Stanford and Notre Dame. I was the head of the National Civic League. I ran Project Independence. I engaged in a dialogue with the American people about where they saw their lives and where they’d like to take this country. After doing that for 2 years, I thought that I was the person that could improve the quality of life for millions of Americans.
Source: Democrat Debate at Dartmouth College , Oct 28, 1999

Search for meaning beyond materialism will guide America

I think there is something that’s going on in the country that is widely felt: people searching for some meaning in their life that is deeper than the material. And I think that that is a profound reaction to the materialism of our time and to the hollowness of life if you’re only interested in material things, and I think that that is also a tremendous kind of compass that will guide us, if we do it the right way, into the 21st century.
Source: NBC’s “Meet the Press” , Aug 1, 1999

Philosophy: Respect people; deal with big questions

I’ve decided that my ability matches the national moment. This is the time to put myself forward to be the leader of the country. I respect the people of this country deeply. I’m running a campaign that pays that respect to them. They need to know what I’m going to do. I’m laying that out on a consistent basis. And if I’m elected, I’ll do the best that I can for the American people and try to deal with the bigger questions rather than the smaller questions. That’s the real philosophy of government.
Source: NBC’s “Meet the Press” , Aug 1, 1999

Basketball teamwork is similar to political teamwork

[Being on a championship basketball team] made a big impression on me about how important teamwork is. And after I was in the Senate a number of years, I realized that legislating was not dissimilar. It was very similar to actually playing team basketball because you had to get different people from different backgrounds with different personal agendas to come together and work toward a common objective. And I think that’s an aspect of leadership.
Source: NBC’s “Meet the Press” , Aug 1, 1999

Stick to ideals & stay above the fray of a “broken” system

Bradley is reaching for what he calls the “idealism” vote. On the Senate floor in 1995, Bradley declared the political system “broken,” and says he has no interest in a traditional campaign.

The “Hanna Doctrine” permeates the Bradley campaign -- as described in Bradley’s autobiography, Mark Hanna advised William McKinley in his successful 1896 presidential campaign to remain above the fray and “occasionally issue a carefully worded public speech.”

Source: Boston Globe, p. A12 , May 10, 1999

Campaign about trust and neighborliness

Bradley is running to restore trust, clean up the political money game, and use our prosperity to help the 1 in 5 children growing up poor. “This economy’s so good we have no more excuses,” he says. “Those are the issues I’m fighting for. Some of you may have known me when I was in short pants, and now I’m asking for a different level of trust.” Bradley spends his time talking about “seeing the goodness in your neighbor” and “making connections” and “feeling less lonely, less isolated, less fearful.”
Source: Time Magazine, p. 6 , Apr 26, 1999

People at “town meetings” form context for policy

Interactions with people and the sharing of their life circumstances show me the boundaries of the possible. The cumulative impressions form context for policy. Ultimately, I rely on my own judgment, but that judgment needs to be built upon the voices of real people. The town meeting offers one such forum. Like the press conference but much wider-ranging, the town meeting is essential to maintaining political sharpness.
Source: Time Present, Time Past, p. 37-38 , Jan 8, 1997

Big reforms are as hard as little reforms, so do big ones

In the Senate, I found that big reform is as easy as small reform. A complete overhaul takes the same amount of time, the same number of meetings, the same energy level as a more modest objective. Given that fact, I always preferred trying for big reform to sticking in small provisions. If you succeed with a small reform, all you get is a slightly different set of complaints and another related task next year. If you succeed with big reform, you can change the country.
Source: Time Present, Time Past, p. 91-92 , Jan 8, 1997

Small town upbringing made him prove himself by winning

The big city makes you feel “behind” if you come from a small town I never liked being called a hick. I never liked being looked down upon by players I had just beaten, only because I was from a small town. I didn’t exactly have a chip on my shoulder, but I felt I had something to prove: that I could win, that I was as good as other people. These feelings ran deep for many years--before I came east, before I won my share, before I saw the individuals beneath the expensive suits and the academic tweeds
Source: Time Present, Time Past, p. 11-12 , Jan 8, 1997

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George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
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Page last updated: Oct 08, 2013