Bradley makes stop at College during NH trip
Former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, the first candidate in the 2000 presidential race to come to Dartmouth, spoke to students yesterday about campaign finance reform, the war in Kosovo and Vice President Al Gore.
In a discussion meeting sponsored by The Dartmouth and WDCR, Bradley spoke extensively on the role of money in politics and alluded to concerns he had over President Clinton's Kosovo strategy, although he declined to specifically criticize the current administration's handling of the situation.
While admitting that campaign finance reform is not high on voters' priority lists, Bradley said reform of the system is essential to maintaining fair democratic elections -- an issue he has made central to his campaign platform.
"Money detrimentally distorts the democratic process," Bradley said. Currently "fundraising starts the democratic process ... I want to return politics to an exchange of ideas, not a ruling of special interests."
Bradley said he would hold himself "to a higher standard" than other candidates do when it comes to this issue, a favorite of Bradley's. As senator, Bradley pushed for tough new campaign finance laws but now is faced with the difficult position of competing in an electoral system which still does not have those restrictions while not appearing to be hypocritical.
Bradley said he would not put himself in a diminished position in terms of financing his campaign, but said he would also not utilize loopholes that currently exist in campaign laws, as others do.
The former Princeton and New York Knicks basketball star declined to talk about his specific opinions on the role of U.S. ground troops in Kosovo, but said he sees some problems with the current administration's handling of the situation.
"You don't want to do anything to undercut our troops in the field so you have to be careful what you say about tactical decisions," Bradley said, but added, "You have to define what success is, clearly, and I'm not sure that's been done ... You never commit armed forces to some place -- you never go in unless you know how to get out."
Bradley also refused to give many specific policy differences between himself and Gore, saying he intended to "explore those more in the fall," but did say in addition to differences on tax and welfare policy, he sees a difference in "life experience."
"I think the vice president has had a life more based in Washington and I think that gives him a different perspective on the American people," Bradley said comparing Gore's largely political life with his which included extensive private work. He also said that as senator he worked on "risky" issues such as taxes, trade and race as opposed to Gore who is more cautious about which issues he tackles.
Bradley said he believes he is the candidate who can more successfully lure independents and Republicans in the general election, if he first wins the primary.
Calling this "the year the young people could rediscover politics," Bradley said the notion of service in politics has been lost and he sees that as one reason why students have become increasingly apathetic to politics.
Bradley served as U.S. Senator from 1979 to 1997 after helping the Knicks win two NBA championships as the starting forward. In the Senate, Bradley was well known as a moderate Democrat for his emphasis on campaign finance and tax reform. He graduated from Princeton University and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study in Oxford University.
He is currently the only candidate challenging Gore for the Democratic Presidential nomination.