McCain Suspends His Presidential Bid; Bradley Drops Out of Presidential RaceAired March 9, 2000 - 8:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: What was apparent Tuesday became official today, Bill Bradley drops out of the presidential race and John McCain stops one step short of that. Surrounded by friends and the picturesque Arizona landscape, McCain suspended his campaign for president, ending a race which at times confounded the establishment of his own Republican Party. He congratulated his victorious opponent, but asked his own supporters to keep fighting for political reform.
We have extensive coverage of election 2000 and where both parties go from here. CNN senior White House correspondent John King first broke the story of McCain's decision last night and starts our coverage.
JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The backdrop could not have been more beautiful, the once-feisty candidate any more subdued. John McCain is in the Republican race for president no more.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I am truly grateful for the distinct privilege of even being considered for the highest office in this, the greatest nation in the history of mankind.
KING: The farewell address included best wishes for Governor George W. Bush but no immediate endorsement. McCain wants the governor to embrace dramatic campaign reform. Intermediaries are trying to arrange a meeting.
REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This is an important moment for the party. Can we capture what we've been able to do in the primary process for the fall? If we can, we'll win. If we lose it, we're in trouble.
KING: Suspending instead of officially ending his campaign allows McCain to get federal matching funds for any last minute contributions. And he keeps control of his delegates for potential platform fights at the Republican convention.
MCCAIN: I will never walk away for a fight for what I know is right and just for our country.
KING: Some advisers want McCain to think about a third party run, but the senator says he is and will always be a loyal Republican.
MCCAIN: I love my party. It is my home. Ours is the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan. That's good company for any American to keep.
KING: McCain won primaries in seven states. Along the way, he spent more than $36 million and won 225 delegates to the Republican National Convention.
MCCAIN: Millions of Americans have rallied to our banner, and their support not just honors me, but has ignited the cause of reform.
KING: Returning to the Senate will be awkward. McCain's maverick streak doesn't sit well with many colleagues. The Republican leaders were openly dismissive of his candidacy.
SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: We left the light on for John McCain. We thought probably he'd be coming back.
KING: The McCain camp believes it has leverage because Democrats and independents who supported the senator are critical to Bush in the fall.
(on camera): But the senator's subdued tone reflects his new political reality, candidates bowing out can make demands and sometimes even get their way, but the nominee calls the shots and leads the party, and the Republican nominee will be George W. Bush, not John McCain.
John King, CNN, Sedona, Arizona.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Candy Crowley with the Bush campaign in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Between campaign stops, George Bush called John McCain, another step in a delicate political dance taking place in private and public.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I appreciate his commitment to reform. The best reform for America, the best reform for this country is to end the Clinton-Gore era in Washington D.C.
CROWLEY: Olive branches, said one Bush source, are breaking out all over. But Bush and company have been told by intermediaries to give McCain time and space to decompress. In the brief Bush-McCain call, there was no talk of a face-to-face meeting or an endorsement. In a campaign that bulges with them, this endorsement, if given with enthusiasm, might actually mean something. After all, since January, almost 4.5 million voters have pulled the lever by the name John McCain.
BUSH: What's going to win his supporters over is when they realize that Al Gore is no reformer, and Al Gore is no John McCain.
CROWLEY: On the stump, Bush talks tax reform education reform, Social Security reform. He talks about campaign finance reform, too. He is particularly fond of discussing Al Gore's plan.
BUSH: On one day, he stands up in front of America, and says we need to get rid of soft money. At the very time, he's planning to go out and raise soft money.
CROWLEY: Would bush go so far as to synch up his ideas on campaign finance reform with John McCain's? Direct questions prompt mushy answers.
BUSH: We'll just have to see.
CROWLEY (on camera): A Bush aide says the governor believes what John McCain is going through now is a personal, not a political process. The governor, said the aide, believes that the next step and the timetable should be left totally up to John McCain, without interference from the Bush campaign.
Candy Crowley, CNN, Cheyenne, Wyoming.
BLITZER: Bush was campaigning today in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado, all of which hold primaries tomorrow. More now on a possible Bush-McCain summit. Several high-level McCain supporters tell CNN they have been contacted by Bush campaign aides. And they say the two sides could meet as soon as next week. But in the words of one McCain backer, "There are hard feelings involved."
More analysis of McCain's decision to suspend his campaign is online at CNN.com/allpolitics -- Jim.
JIM MORET, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, Democrat Bill Bradley also left the presidential race today, announcing he will support Al Gore in November, but acknowledging the two men still have their differences.
CNN's Jeanne Meserve has the story.
BILL BRADLEY (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've decided to withdraw from the Democratic race for president.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Bradley campaign, which just months ago seemed such a potent threat to Al Gore, ended Thursday, defeated but defiant.
BRADLEY: The vice president and I had a stiff competition and he won. I congratulate him. He will be the nominee of the Democratic Party, and I will support him in his bid to win the White House. And this morning, I called him and told him all that.
MESERVE: On Capitol Hill, Gore characterized the call. ALBERT GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can say that it was warm and genuine, gracious and friendly, and I appreciated his statement of support
MESERVE: But Bradley's embrace of Gore was far from a bear hug. He made it clear he was doing this for the sake of the Democratic Party, not the Democratic candidate. He did not give Gore his delegates. He said Gore had more explaining to do about campaign finance irregularities in 1996, and he did not back off criticism of the campaign Gore conducted against him.
BRADLEY: I thought that there were distortions and negativity. And I hope that he'll run a better campaign in the general election.
MESERVE: Bradley said he would continue to crusade for his core issues.
BRADLEY: We have been defeated, but the cause for which I ran has not been.
MESERVE: As he spoke, staffers and supporters wept, for the failure of the man and the cause they had embraced.
Why didn't this campaign stay aloft?
BRADLEY: Well, it certainly shows that when you do battle with the entrenched powers, that it's very difficult.
MESERVE (on camera): Though Bradley ruled out accepting the vice presidential slot, he did not quell speculation that he might run for president again someday. But first on is calendar, a vacation.
Jeanne Meserve, CNN, West Orange, New Jersey.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
|CLICK HERE FOR TODAY'S TOPICS AND GUESTS|
CLICK HERE FOR CNN PROGRAM SCHEDULES
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.