Bethesda, Md. (CNSNews.com) - Even though he trails Vice President Al Gore in the polls, Democrat Bill Bradley is campaigning hard for his party's presidential nomination, saying that he is the only Democrat who can beat either of the likely Republican candidates in the general election next November.
"I think I can beat either one of them," Bradley told CNSNews.com on Sunday when the former U.S. Senator from New Jersey was asked about his chances against Texas Gov. George W. Bush or Arizona Sen. John McCain in a presidential matchup. "I think I'm the only guy that can beat either one of them," he added.
Bradley gave his remarks to CNSNews.com at a rousing campaign stop in this fashionable suburb just outside the nation's capital. Maryland is one of a dozen states holding primaries on March 7, also known as Super Tuesday.
Although the polls show Bradley trailing Gore in Maryland, as well as in the delegate-rich states of New York, California and Ohio, the former National Basketball Association star said that, as of now, he and Gore have captured about the same number of delegates to the Democratic national convention.
"The count is now 42 delegates for the vice president and 27 delegates for me," Bradley told several hundred cheering fans gathered under a giant health food store sign in a neighborhood mini-mall near one of Bethesda's main avenues named, ironically, Bradley Boulevard.
With Super Tuesday less than two days away, and with Bradley's possible elimination from the presidential contest looming, his campaign staff and supporters were upbeat.
"We're going to fight for everything," Bradley campaign spokesman Eric Hauser told CNSNews.com. "Right now, the focus is on Tuesday."
Committed Bradley backer Steven Rosenthal, a resident of Bethesda, said the choice between Gore and Bradley was, for him, a simple one.
"The choice is clear," Rosenthal told CNSNews.com. "I like Bradley's politics and his integrity."
Matthew Davis of nearby Arlington, Va. said that he definitely will vote for the Democratic candidate in November, but at this point he is still undecided between Gore and Bradley. He added that he is one Democrat who is not considering voting for McCain in the fall if the senator wins the GOP nomination because he doesn't like McCain's temperament.
"John McCain is a real hothead," Davis told CNSNews.com.
Bradley campaign volunteer, Sandhya Gubta, said she wants Bradley to win the Democratic nomination, and the presidency, because she agrees with his liberal positions on most issues, including gun control, health care, pro-choice, and the environment. She also said, "Bradley has strong convictions on race relations."
"Bradley has strong convictions period," Gubta told CNSNews.com. She added that during extensive campaign telephone calling to likely Democratic voters she got the impression that the majority of them "believed what Bill Bradley said rather than Al Gore."
Credibility was also a factor for Jessica Feldman of Chantilly, Va., who told CNSNews.com that she finds Bradley "a little more honest than Gore."
Deborah B. Vollmer, a Democratic candidate for Maryland's eighth Congressional District, told CNSNews.com that she is actively campaigning for Bradley because she likes, among other things, his stances on universal health care and campaign finance reform.