Manchester, NH (CNS) - With temperatures hovering near the century mark, Bill Bradley and campaign volunteers spent this past Saturday canvassing this first-in-the nation primary state, where they found voters who said they growing tired of the Clinton-Gore administration.
Accompanied, for the first time in this state, by his college professor wife-writer, Ernestine, a daughter, son-in law and several grandchildren, Bradley and his entourage of nearly 500 volunteers from more than a dozen states, made appearances in the heavily populated southern tier of New Hampshire, including Manchester, nearby Derry and Nashua.
As Bradley moved around the state, many in the audiences said they were suffering from "Clinton fatigue," including Bob Hug of Milford, NH, who said he voted Clinton-Gore twice. "I'm very concerned about some of the things that have happened in the last four years, including campaign financing questions, which have never been adequately answered. We need a change. I'm hoping Bradley can make it happen."
"I will vote for anyone but Al Gore," said 39-year-old Dave Johnson, a registered Democrat and Manchester sales executive. "I don't trust him and I know more than a few people who feel the same. The lack of moral integrity in this administration has raised doubts in my mind as to whether he can lead the country. That's why I'm here, to listen to what Bradley has to say."
While Bradley was received enthusiastically at his campaign stops, the volunteers who accompanied him were outspoken about their dislike of Al Gore and why they signed on with the New Jersey resident's run for the White House.
"I'm very tired of all the scandals," said Larry Wersnbale, a 4th grade teacher from Hyattsville, MD. "Gore grew up in Washington, DC. He went to the finest private schools the city has to offer. For much of his youth, his family lived in an exclusive Washington hotel. He is the son of a senator."
Then, referring to Bradley's childhood, spent in a small mid-western town, Wersnbale said, "I don't believe Al Gore knows America as well as Bill Bradley."
Stuart Colbert, a 62-year-old commercial real estate broker, from Scarsdale, NY, said of Gore, "He's in a political box and he's been in one all of his life. Al Gore has spent his life working to get himself elected to some office, while Bradley has a wealth of non-political experiences."
Colbert said Bradley was once dubbed "Mr. President," by his New York Knick teammates and added, "I've not seen any of his integrity and honesty in any other candidate."
"I'd vote for John McCain before I'd vote for Al Gore," said one Bradley supporter. "Gore has no chance of winning,"
"I'd be right behind him," insisted Ira Allen, an insurance sales executive from New York State.
"I'm concerned national party leaders will take over the election and try and hand the nomination to Gore," said Bill McDonald, a Manchester business owner. "I don't want to see that happen."
Bradley used a campaign stop at a downtown Manchester restaurant to criticize Vice President Al Gore. Asked by a self-identified undecided voter to pick one issue where he felt he and Gore differed, Bradley chose gun control, characterizing Gore's position as "timid."
Unlike his opponent, Bradley insisted he would seek legislation banning all so-called "Saturday night specials," propose legislation which would require all gun owners to register all weapons, as well as legislation licensing all gun owners. Bradley also called for legislation banning a gun dealer from locating in a residential neighborhood.
Asked about the Republican's recently passed $800 billion tax cut, the former National Basketball Association star responded, "They'll never learn...we've just gotten the budget balanced. Their plan will take us back to 1991."
Bradley insisted the anticipated surpluses should be used to provide health insurance to currently uninsured Americans. As for a tax cut, one might come later, he said, if and when the economy falters and needs stimulation.
Asked about the recently approved Republican Patient's Bill of Rights, Bradley characterized it as "a gift to insurance companies," and added, "It does nothing for patients. We need to put the doctors back in control of patient care."
Bradley also jumped on the campaign finance reform bandwagon. Insisting special interest money "too often dictates the agenda in Washington," Bradley noted he does not accept PAC money, nor has he created "sham state PACs," whose contributions amount to soft money.
Asked for specifics, Bradley said he favors the abolition of all soft money; public financing of federal general election races and free television time for candidates. Bradley also called for same day voter registration in every state, the option of voting by mail and the passage of a federal Voters Leave Act, which would give every worker two hour off on election day to cast a ballot.
Bradley told voters he is increasingly being asked to discuss his presidential legacy, should he beat Gore and win the general election. While acknowledging it was somewhat pre-mature to be thinking legacy, before even a single vote has been cast, Bradley did not hesitate to respond.
"I would like to preside over a nation that is at peace and one that is respected around the world...I would like to be the protector of the natural environment...the good steward of a good economy that takes more and more people to a higher ground...I'd like to know that every child in America can reach his or her potential, including the millions now living in poverty."
Bradley called for health care for all, who are now without it, as well as "a good breakfast for every school age child," and insisted now, while the economy is strong, "Every one ought to get on the train of prosperity."