"First in the Nation" special: Bill Bradley transcript
February 3, 1999
Steve Forbes | Al Gore | John McCain | Dan Quayle
( Editor's note: This interview with former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley appeared in a joint CNN-WMUR special, "First in the Nation: The New Hampshire Primary," which aired February 2, 1999. WMUR's Jennifer Vaughn talked to Bradley.)
BILL BRADLEY (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I remember, right after I declared I picked up a biography of Lincoln, which I said earlier is my favorite president, and I turned to the chapter where he decided he was running for president of the United States, and he observed to a friend when he finally made the decision, "The taste is in my mouth." And that's how I feel: I feel like the taste is in my mouth.
JENNIFER VAUGHN, WMUR REPORTER: When you left the Senate, you left on a passionate note, saying you were partly disillusioned because you weren't able to create a sweeping change among sides that were then very divided.
So, the question is, why would you feel comfortable heading back to Washington politics with both sides, perhaps, even more divided than they ever have been before?
BRADLEY: When I left the Senate, I said that the politics were broken; by that I meant there was way too much money in politics; the media was too superficial and sensational, and there were not all politics spoke from their court convictions. And, If you look at the last two years, I'm not sure anyone would argue that my observation were less true now than were then, and so I left, though, with a great respect for the United States Senate -- I think it's the best selective job in the world; it was time for me to go, and I went to do things I couldn't do if I was in the Senate -- in terms of deepening my own knowledge and experience of the country. And I decided that I want to use that knowledge and experience to benefit millions of Americans, so that's why I decided to make the run at this time.
VAUGHN: What about the issues? What's close to your heart right now?
BRADLEY: Well, I think that the most important thing to me in terms of deepest feelings is racial unity, and also what's happening to America's families; I think we have too many single parents, particularly teenage mothers, and that we need to give them support; we need to try to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies, and we need look at working families in this country.
Sometimes both mother and father -- 40 percent of the kids live in homes where both parents work; 25 percent live in homes where there's a single parent. And when it comes to working parents, and often a single parent, what we have to do is try to create an ability for them to have time with their children, to instill them with the values that they need to go on and live a productive life, not only for the country, but for themselves and their families.
VAUGHN: Against the sitting vice president, it's a very lofty approach to running a presidential campaign. He is popular; he has got an extremely hefty war chest, as far as campaign goes, earning $600,000 a week in campaign money. How do you approach this?
BRADLEY: Well, I think that money in politics today really distorts our Democracy, but if you are going to go out and say what you believe, you have to have the means to say it. So, I'm working on a regular, constant basis to raise the money, and that will be part of this campaign because I desperately want to lead the country.
VAUGHN: There's been talk of you running in '88, '92 -- for various reasons, you didn't. Some speculate, it was written about you, that there wasn't the confidence level that you needed, the fire that you needed. Was that ever a case for you, and if it was, why now?
BRADLEY: In 1988, quite frankly, I looked at myself in the mirror and said I'm not ready, the country deserves your best, and so I didn't run. In 1992, I looked at myself in the mirror and said I am ready, but there was something in me that said, no, don't do this. And so I honored that inner voice, and ultimately I'm lucky that I did honor that inner voice because my wife was ill and it would have been too ill to deal with it -- she's fine now -- but then it became time for considering the year 2000. I looked in the mirror and said, I'm ready, I'm really, kind of, at the top of my game. And therefore, I bring my experience, talents, abilities, whatever they are and offer them to the American people.
Steve Forbes | Al Gore | John McCain | Dan Quayle
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