Bill Bradley collected a warm endorsement yesterday from his old friend and Senate colleague Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, and it came with a couple of bonus digs at Bradley's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Asked by reporters why he did not back Vice President Gore, Moynihan replied with a lift of the eyebrows: "Nothing is the matter with Mr. Gore except he can't be elected president."

The assembled New York press corps made sure to ask the retiring senator why Gore might be unelectable. "You want a list of reasons?" Moynihan queried archly. He went on to note the rarity of vice presidents succeeding their presidents, and poll data showing Bradley to be stronger against Republican front-runner George W. Bush.

For the record, Moynihan's New York aide Ross A. Frommer said afterward that "Senator Moynihan has a great amount of respect for Vice President Gore."

Moynihan and Bradley recycled a line first used to promote Bradley in the 1978 New Jersey Senate campaign. Moynihan quoted Woodrow Wilson's observation that the strain of the presidency ruled out "men of ordinary physique and discretion" and that future presidents would have to be picked "from among wise and prudent athletes, a small class."

Former professional basketball player Bradley, Moynihan added, is "a man with heart and courage and stamina."

Kiki Moore, Gore's campaign press secretary, dismissed Moynihan's endorsement: "I think President Bob Kerrey really appreciated his support in 1992."

Gore has won endorsements from more than 100 members of Congress; Moynihan is the fourth to take Bradley's side. Bradley explained the disparity by casting himself as the outsider against "the establishment power represented by the White House."

A Rich Addition to N.J. Race

Jon S. Corzine, former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs & Co., officially launched his campaign for the New Jersey Senate nomination yesterday on a liberal platform of gun control, public education and universal health care.

At a news conference on the front lawn of his home in Summit, N.J., Corzine acknowledged his lack of political experience but said he wanted to be "an advocate for meeting our society's most important challenges."

Corzine is vying for the seat of retiring Democrat Frank R. Lautenberg. Democratic chances of holding the seat were greatly enhanced when Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, a Republican, decided against running this month, and some party leaders see Corzine's outsider status and vast net worth as huge assets.

Corzine engineered the public offering of Goldman Sachs. He left in March with a $234 million handshake. "As a U.S. senator, I won't owe anything to anyone but you," he told supporters. "I won't stand up for anyone but you."

Bauer Calls for Tax Overhaul

Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer joined the tax debate yesterday, calling for an end to all deductions except those for home mortgage interest and charitable contributions and for a flat 16 percent tax rate on most income.

"My party must stand for the working American, blue collar and white collar, not just for the big corporate interests," he said in announcing his "family-friendly" plan during a speech at the National Press Club.

Bauer's plan would give taxpayers a credit of $1,400 per person that could be used to offset income and payroll taxes, unlike current credits that apply only to income taxes. This credit would replace the personal exemption, the child care tax credit and other tax credits.

Contrasting his plan to that of the original flat-tax candidate, Steve Forbes, Bauer said Forbes's would allow "our corporate friends to pay zero in taxes while secretaries, cab drivers, waitresses, farmers and school teachers pay 17 percent."

Staff writer Ianthe Jeanne Dugan contributed to this report.