Eager to show his campaign is deeper than New Hampshire and Iowa, Bill Bradley detoured from his trip between those two states yesterday to accept the endorsement of 50 Massachusetts legislators at a rally outside Boston's historic Faneuil Hall.
One day after he joined Vice President Gore in a debate at the University of New Hampshire, Bradley used his speech to the largely liberal crowd to condemn Gore for taking an incremental approach to controlling handguns and making health insurance available to more poor children and working adults.
"Do you think Franklin Roosevelt would've gotten Social Security if he would've said, 'We're going to do 20 percent this year and 40 percent next year and 30 percent the following year?' No!" Bradley said. "Do you think Lyndon Johnson would've got Medicare if he'd said, 'We're going to do 50 percent--we'll just see what happens'?"
"They went out and took on a big issue," Bradley continued. "I come from that tradition. I believe that we can do that again. . . . And with your help, we will."
Harvard University professor Cornel West also roused the crowd by declaring, "Let the word go forth from this historic place here in town that Bill Bradley is on the move, and that we are there with him, beside him, around him, because we are fundamentally dedicated to keeping alive the best of the Democratic tradition, and Bill Bradley is the president who best embodies that."
Bradley's aides said they were delighted with Wednesday's debate because they believed Gore was emphasizing experience while Bradley talked about leadership, which the Bradley camp believes will help his effort to be seen as an outsider.
For his part yesterday, Gore plunged into the brand of retail politics that New Hampshire voters expect from a vice president. He appeared at Manchester City Hall, where the city's newly elected Democratic mayor, former school principal Bob Baines, announced that he was giving Gore his endorsement because he thought Gore was stronger than Bradley on education issues.
Then Gore's long motorcade pulled up at the popular Red Arrow diner, where Gore shook hands and mugged for the crowd with a 6-month-old baby. Gore then went trolling for votes at the Puritan Backroom Restaurant and Lounge and ran into Republican Gary Bauer. The two candidates chatted briefly, with Bauer chiding Gore for his support for gays in the military.
Gore spent much of the day assessing the previous night's performance against Bradley. Asked by an interviewer for WOKQ radio whether Bradley was becoming more combative, Gore agreed that "he was in a slightly different mood last night." But he said he thinks both he and Bradley are improving as candidates. "Both of us are getting sharper and better on our own proposals and those of the other guy."
Earlier, Gore repeated his claim that he is the underdog in New Hampshire. But he suggested the race is effectively over if he manages to win. "The circumstances have created a situation where the people in New Hampshire have more power to determine the future of this campaign than they have ever had in the history of the New Hampshire primary," Gore said.
Also yesterday, Gore's campaign aired a new TV spot emphasizing Gore's support for federal subsidies to guarantee "universal preschool," to lower class sizes and to modernize crumbling schools and ensure Internet access.
Arriving in Des Moines last night, Bradley announced he had decided to support an international treaty banning the production, sale, use and stockpiling of anti-personnel land mines, "so that we can lead the world by the power of our example."
Gore also has endorsed the Ottawa Treaty, which has been signed by more than 130 nations and ratified by more than 70. The United States has not signed it, maintaining that such weapons may be needed on the Korean peninsula. President Clinton has said the United States will approve the treaty by 2006 if the military can find some alternative to the mines.
Bradley made his announcement at a campaign rally the day before Iowans to Ban Landmines has scheduled an event in Des Moines to be attended by Nobel Peace Prize winners Jody Williams and Tun Channareth of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
Allen was with Bradley, Harris with Gore.