(CNSNews.com) - Democratic Presidential hopeful Bill Bradley has rejected a call from the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party that he abandon his quest for the Oval Office.
In a letter to the former New Jersey senator, party chairman Richard Harpootlian urged Vice President Al Gore's sole rival to leave the presidential race now rather than cause Gore residual damage which could haunt him in a general election contest this fall.
Using basketball references in addressing Bradley, a member of the NBA's Hall of Fame, Harpootlian wrote, "I believe it is time for you to pass the ball to the vice president who has the opportunity to make the game-winning basket."
However, the Bradley campaign would hear none of it. Spokesman Eric Hauser responded, "We're certainly not dropping out. Voters get to decide elections, not party chairmen."
Hauser insisted his man is "picking up steam" despite a four-point loss to Gore in New Hampshire that some, in and out of the campaign, expected to be larger. Hauser also insisted Gore could not be elected against a Republican in November given his role in the administration's 1996 fund-raising scandals.
Responding to other accusations against Bradley by Gore, Hauser added, "It appears the vice president has returned to a reckless disregard for the truth. It is somewhat alarming that day after day he continues not to be truthful on matters that relate to the campaign, to his record and to our record."