Bradley: Clinton squandered 'people's trust' by lying
GOP chairman to meet with Buchanan to urge him not to bolt
Written by Richard Shumate
September 19, 1999
Web posted at: 7:54 p.m. EDT (2354 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, September 19, 1999) -- Distancing himself from President Bill Clinton's loyal vice president, Al Gore, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley said Sunday that he believes Clinton lied to the American people during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
"I think that any time a president lies, he undermines his own authority and squanders the people's trust," said Bradley, whom polls show is drawing closer to Gore, his chief 2000 Democratic rival.
However, Bradley, in an interview on ABC's "This Week," said he would not have voted to remove Clinton from office because "I didn't think that impeachment was proportionate to what he did."
Asked whether he agreed with Gore's assessment on the day that the House impeached Clinton that he would go down in history as one of the greatest presidents, Bradley said, "I'd pick Lincoln."
Pressed, he continued giving names of presidents he considered great, from Franklin Roosevelt back to James K. Polk. But no Clinton.
Meanwhile, on the GOP side of the 2000 race Sunday, Republican National Chairman Jim Nicholson said he would meet with conservative commentator Pat Buchanan this week in an attempt to persuade him not to bolt to the Reform Party.
"I'm going to listen to Pat," Nicholson said on NBC's "Meet The Press." "I also have some things that I want to point out to him and ask Pat why he and his supporters would want to take the risk of letting Al Gore or Bill Bradley appoint liberal justices to the United State Supreme Court ... who tend to turn our constitution into a suggestion box when they have the chance."
But Buchanan, in an interview on CBS's "Face The Nation," made it clear that he is unlikely to be swayed by that argument.
While saying that "of course I don't want Al Gore," Buchanan also noted that many in GOP political establishment hold the same positions on free trade and foreign policy as the Clinton administration.
"We need a party, quite frankly, that is not an establishment party and does not accept the whole 'New World Order' agenda of the international community and the Washington establishment," he said. "If I go Reform, it is to offer America a real choice."
Buchanan, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination in 1992 and 1996, said he will decide by October whether to abandon his quest for the 2000 GOP nod in order to seek the Reform Party's nomination.
He conceded that the process is "very complex" and could be made more difficult with the active opposition of Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, the party's most prominent office holder. But he said he thinks he could win the nomination over Ventura's opposition.
"Gov. Ventura, if he got into the race, would be a formidable candidate for that nomination. But if I get into the race for the Reform Party nomination, you've got to put somebody up there to beat me," Buchanan said.
One of Buchanan's rivals for the GOP nomination, former Vice President Dan Quayle, said his possible defection should be a wake up call to the Republican Party and is a sign of "frustration" about the lack of ideas being offered by GOP candidates.
"If we don't pay attention to this Reform Party and people that are going to the Reform Party and try to get them back into the Republican Party, we could pay another very serious price," Quayle said on "Fox News Sunday."
Quayle also said that if he becomes the Republican nominee, he might also seek the Reform nomination, and he urged other GOP candidates to consider the same strategy "to bring those two parties together and to tell the Reform Party members that your home is in the Republican Party."
"And the only way they're going to come back to the Republican Party is if we have a candidate that is willing to speak about ideas," Quayle said.
Speaking of the Republican front-runner, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, Quayle said "his ideas that thus far have come forth are clearly not what I consider to be the ideas of the Republican Party and what is necessary to win the election in the fall."
Bradley, in a wide-ranging interview on ABC, said he believes Bush ought to answer questions about whether he ever used cocaine. Bradley said he had never used cocaine but had used marijuana "several times" in his youth.
The former senator from New Jersey also reiterated his stand that gay men and lesbians ought to be able to serve openly in the military. He said he did not consult with military officials on the issue before coming to that position.
"This is a statement of my personal views, my personal belief that gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military," he said.
He also defended his vote against welfare reform in 1996 while he was in the Senate, despite the ensuing drop in the number of people on welfare.
"The economy is more responsible than the welfare reform bill, I think, for our current drop in the rolls," he said, also noting that changes that have been made in the reform regime since he voted no.
"I voted against it saying (that in) the next four years, this administration will be making changes to make it palatable. They've made changes in terms of food stamps, in terms of Medicaid, in terms of a number of other things," he said. "There are other things that need to be done."
Bradley also reiterated his stand in favor of registration and licensing of handguns. But he said he would not advocate an outright ban on handguns because "what are we doing to with the pentathlon team in the Olympics? They've got to have handguns. That's an event in the Olympics."
"There are several other exceptions," he said.