Bill Bradley, perhaps the nation's most famous scholar-athlete, refused to take a quiz on world leaders like the one that flummoxed another presidential candidate, Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
During a long-scheduled interview, Andy Hiller, political reporter for WHDH-TV, the NBC station in Boston, asked, "Can you identify the leader of North Korea?"
"I'm not going to get into this--I'm not going to play this game," Bradley answered. "I think these are pop questions, and I don't think they illustrate, really, the qualities that are important to be president."
In an exchange two days earlier, Bush answered one of four questions Hiller asked him about heads of state in world hot spots.
On Friday morning, Bradley joked that he had spent the night boning up on world leaders. But when he met Hiller that afternoon, he objected to such questions.
"Clearly, it's important to know how a country functions, its leader, who it is at a particular time," Bradley said. "What I'm objecting to is that this is a technique that's used to supposedly illustrate the depth of knowledge someone has about, say, foreign policy. . . . And I don't think that it does."
Bradley said every politician would have to decide how to answer such questions. "People aren't going to tell journalists what to do, but politicians have to draw the line," he said. Asked about the propriety of such inquiries, Bradley said, "That is something that legitimate journalists struggle for."
For those playing at home, the leader of North Korea is Kim Jong-il.
Buchanan Intent on Role in Debates
Patrick J. Buchanan will not be denied.
If he wins the Reform Party's nomination next year, he plans to be in the presidential debates, or else. His lawyers are already studying possible legal action if the Federal Election Commission tries to keep him out, advisers said last week.
At a news conference last week, Buchanan said his supporters will demand that he be included. "We have ideas that are enormously attractive to millions, perhaps tens of millions of Americans who feel left out and left behind and voiceless in this system," he said. "And I'm articulating those on television and radio, and by the time we get to that debate, they're going to demand that . . . we get a hearing in that debate."
In 1996, Reform Party founder and candidate Ross Perot sued the FEC, but the case failed to work its way through the judicial process before the election. The party dropped the lawsuit this spring. Reform Party Chairman Russell Verney said the party has neither the legal standing nor the resources to fight a similar battle this time. "The candidate should bring that suit and . . . and would have to finance it," he said.
Roger Stone, a consultant to Donald Trump, told the Associated Press that Buchanan was being a bit presumptuous. "I don't think he's going to win the Reform Party nomination, so I don't think he'll be qualified for the debates," Stone said.
Reform Party spokeswoman Donna Donovan said Trump has scheduled receptions with party leaders in Miami, Los Angeles and Hartford, Conn.
Staff writer Terry M. Neal contributed to this report.