Bradley Bows Out, Says He Will "Support" Gore

July 7, 2008 - 8:25 PM

( - Former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley - a former NBA star - is now a former contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. At a news conference in West Orange, New Jersey, Bradley announced he was dropping out of the race, although he said he will work to ensure a Democratic White House and Congress.

"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."

In swinging his support to Vice President Al Gore, Bradley avoided using the word "endorse," saying, "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."

Bradley said he called the vice president this morning and told him that. "Now it is time for unity," Bradley said.

Later, asked why he hadn't used the word "endorse" in connection with Gore, Bradley told reporters, "I am giving him my support for the nomination, I will work for him, and that is what I am saying." Bradley said it's up to reporters to judge if that constitutes an endorsement.

Bradley said he also will continue working for what he called a "new politics" in America - the politics of inspiration and inclusion, unpolluted by money, in which leaders speak from their core convictions rather than from focus groups.

Bradley said he entered the campaign because of his own core convictions - access to healthcare for all Americans, the elimination of child poverty, gun control, racial unity, education and campaign finance reform.

"These are not and never have been political slogans for me," Bradley said. "They are and always have been my convictions - convictions I do not change because an election is won or lost.

"What makes this a special moment in America is that we can afford to do these all these things now, especially since we're living in a time of unprecedented prosperity. And if we did these things, we would all be stronger.

"If we don't seize this moment, future generations will judge us harshly and say 'They knew what was wrong, they had the means to make it better, and they did not act.'"

Bradley told his supporters, "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 and their dreams.

As for what comes next, Bradley twice said he plans to take a vacation - twice avoiding a question about whether he'd run for president again some day. His apparent refusal to rule out a later run drew cheers from his supporters.

Bradley has previously said he has no interest in being vice president.