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Bradley Voters Find New Champion in Obama


Bill Bradley's hopes are being realized in Obama. (A.P.)

By Alec MacGillis
CONCORD, N.H. -- Barack Obama is being joined on the campaign trail today in New Hampshire by Bill Bradley. The endorsement by the former New Jersey senator may verge on the superfluous for Obama, who with one day until the primary is now leading Hillary Clinton in the polls here and doing particularly well among the kind of independent voters who took a liking to Bradley in his 2000 challenge of Al Gore.

Yet the pairing of the two men on the cusp of what may well be another big victory for Obama offers a moment of vindication for the many Obama supporters here who also backed Bradley in 2000, only to see him fall just short of beating Gore in the primary. Obama echoes Bradley in many regards: He, too, is a cerebral Ivy League senator with a conciliatory, post-partisan message; he also appeals to liberal, upscale Democrats as well as to independents and some Republicans; and he is also taking on a pillar of the Democratic establishment who is running, with some hesitation, on the record of the Clinton administration. Heck, they both even play basketball.

But there are, of course, differences as well -- which helps explain why Obama may be on the cusp of pulling off the grand upset that eluded Bradley. Obama's youth and singular background give him an air of novelty that Bradley lacked, and have helped him tap into the youth vote to a far greater extent. While Bradley's campaign was quite well funded, thanks in part to strong Wall Street support, his organization fell short of what Obama has assembled. Most notably, while Obama can be every bit as professorial as Bradley, he can also get rhetorically "fired up" in a way the phlegmatic Bradley never could.

To Bruce Harwood, a lawyer who put up members of Bradley's advance team at his home in Bedford during the 2000 campaign, the contrast is clear. "Obama is less cynical than Bradley. Bradley had been around the track so many times that he knew the weight of the opposition," Harwood said. "Obama has that extra kick of energy you have when you haven't been beaten down by Senate committees for 16 years. Obama has more spunk -- he can project himself in a way that Bradley doesn't."

Harwood added, "You had to get to know Bradley to be inspired -- whereas Obama inspires you to get to know him."

Bradley's defeat, Harwood recalls, was a "heartbreak." He was leading the polls several months before the primary, drawing support from independents and Democrats who had their doubts about Gore. But Gore hammered away at Bradley, chiding him for leaving the Senate and attacking his ambitious health-care plan as undermining Medicaid. Bradley's defense of himself was mild, to the dismay of supporters who found Gore's attacks unfair and inaccurate. By primary day, many of the independents who liked Bradley decided to vote instead in the Republican primary, for John McCain. (More than 60 percent of independents voted in the Republican primary, whereas a majority now tell pollsters they will vote in the Democratic one.)

Nonetheless, Bradley lost to Gore by only four points, a respectable showing against a sitting vice president with the state's Democratic establishment behind him. But with all the attention going to McCain's big upset of George W. Bush, Bradley got none of the "moral victory" boost that previous second-place finishers like Gene McCarthy and George McGovern had gotten in New Hampshire. With a gap in the calendar until the next primary votes, he lacked a chance to regain momentum, and his campaign withered away.

To this day, many of Bradley's supporters believe that he could have won the nomination had he gotten a bounce out of New Hampshire, and that, as someone with appeal to independents and male voters, he could have beaten Bush that fall. But now, that second-guessing is being put aside, as they increasingly sense that they may just achieve what they didn't eight years ago, when they came closer than many realized to rattling a Democratic establishment that now looks on the verge of toppling.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 7, 2008; 2:59 PM ET
 
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Comments

smart " YOUNG VOTERS" see below and this is why we elect a President.
Obama is a huge MISTAKE for U.S.

**CNN last night Lou Dodds said they polled the young voters supporting obama (which is how he is winning the recent caucuses) NOT ONE COULD SAY WHERE HE STOOD ON ANY ISSUE?? With the country at odds with so many foreign countries, it is horrifying to think of Barrack " Hussein" Obama ( Muslim) running our country. You think we are in trouble with bush/Chaney!

Posted by: dyck21005 | January 8, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

**CNN last night Lou Dodds said they polled the young voters supporting obama (which is how he is winning the recent caucuses) NOT ONE COULD SAY WHERE HE STOOD ON ANY ISSUE?? With the country at odds with so many foreign countries, it is horrifying to think of Barrack " Hussein" Obama ( Muslim) running our country. You think we are in trouble with bush/Chaney!

Senator Barack Obama won the Iowa Caucuses. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson placed fourth. But did they really earn their finishing positions? The answer may be surprising. In the last hours before the Iowa caucuses Obama, approached Joe Biden with this, proposal: In precincts where Biden had a local official loyal to him, and if Biden wasn't viable, then Senator Biden would tell his organizers to move his supporters over to Obama,in precincts where Obama had more than enough supporters, he would lend people to Biden to ensure Biden a fourth place finish so that he could continue. Biden told the Washington Post that the strategy could be "viability for victory except when the media found out, Obama's camp admitted that the conversation took place. Biden, who when asked about the proposal at a campaign event said that the deal could "probably" help both campaigns; he rejected the deal on "moral grounds," History recorded that Joe Biden placed fifth in Iowa, and subsequently dropped out of the race. On January 4, the day after the caucus, the New York Times reported Obama made the same deal to Bill Richardson only this time the deal was accepted. The Times article gives an eye-witness account and confession of an Obama official telling Richardson supporters that a pact had indeed been made. Deb Copeland, an Obama volunteer reported by the New York Times. "What we're concerned about hearing people going to Hillary. Volunteers for the Biden campaign told the Rev. Rob Times that Obama organizers used the same speech about a "pact" to lure supporters in at least two precincts. The Effect of backdoor wheeling and dealing between campaigns is that Richardson's fourth place finish and Obama's would not had a victory in a democratic system. Our democracy is based, in part, on the concept of "one man, one vote," and a vote by a secret ballot, free from the judging eyes of neighbors and the media, free from bribery, and free from the influence of political activists. Had the Iowa contest been based on a ballot, and had caucus voters cast a single vote for the candidate of their choice as is the most fair method of picking a president, then Obama may have come in third and Richardson in fifth. Obama's would have placed second to Clinton, and the dynamic of the race would have changed drastically. Edwards, Clinton, and even Biden all would have come out of Iowa in stronger positions. Those who took advantage and exploited it for their own purposes, namely Barack Obama and Bill Richardson, are not without culpability and their misdeeds should be remembered in the minds of voters.

Posted by: dyck21005 | January 8, 2008 8:02 AM | Report abuse

who cares about Oprah? I guess millions of stupid fat people do. People can't you think for yourselves??? you need Oprah to tell you how to live your life?
please wake up, exercise, lose some weight and look at how the rest of the civilized world is leaving their lives. America is heading in the wrong direction at the speed of life. people live their lives stuck to their television sets and allow the television and media to dictate their lives.
Oprah is an idiot who forgot how hard it was for a woman to get to the power. I have no respect for her anylonger since she turned her back on Hillary. she should have sided with the women. but she is such a typical stupid woman, she sides with the men, typical women. instead of us smart women to unite together and be strong and unite against the hurt we got from men, we turn against each other and kiss us the guys who hurt us. or maybe Oprah couldn't stand the fact that there might be a woman out there more powerful than she is. I have no respect for Oprah what's so ever. she is an big time idiot.
Obama stole all Hillary ideas and now he is turning into a major jerk. let's not forget that he put her down on national television many times. I don't like him and I don't trust him. Hillary will make one good president, but I guess this country is way behind the rest of the world to allow a woman to lead. This country is pretty sexist so I am not surprised you will vote for a black guy who is inexperienced rather than vote for a perfectly good experienced candidate who is a woman. Well, I think you guys are making a big mistake for voting for Obama. On the day when you will have to vote for your president, the majority of people will vote for the white republican guy, and hence one more time there will be 8 years of long recession and republican, conservative and narrow-minded era.
wake up and smell the coffee and vote for the right candidate who can bring the country back to the glory days of Clinton when the economy was booming and things were good.
and one more thing, so what Bill cheated on Hilary, how many men out there cheat on their wives on daily basis?

Posted by: manuela.am.pop | January 7, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

who cares about Oprah? I guess millions of stupid fat people do. People can't you think for yourselves??? you need Oprah to tell you how to live your life?
please wake up, exercise, lose some weight and look at how the rest of the civilized world is leaving their lives. America is heading in the wrong direction at the speed of life. people live their lives stuck to their television sets and allow the television and media to dictate their lives.
Oprah is an idiot who forgot how hard it was for a woman to get to the power. I have no respect for her anylonger since she turned her back on Hillary. she should have sided with the women. but she is such a typical stupid woman, she sides with the men, typical women. instead of us smart women to unite together and be strong and unite against the hurt we got from men, we turn against each other and kiss us the guys who hurt us. or maybe Oprah couldn't stand the fact that there might be a woman out there more powerful than she is. I have no respect for Oprah what's so ever. she is an big time idiot.
Obama stole all Hillary ideas and now he is turning into a major jerk. let's not forget that he put her down on national television many times. I don't like him and I don't trust him. Hillary will make one good president, but I guess this country is way behind the rest of the world to allow a woman to lead. This country is pretty sexist so I am not surprised you will vote for a black guy who is inexperienced rather than vote for a perfectly good experienced candidate who is a woman. Well, I think you guys are making a big mistake for voting for Obama. On the day when you will have to vote for your president, the majority of people will vote for the white republican guy, and hence one more time there will be 8 years of long recession and republican, conservative and narrow-minded era.
wake up and smell the coffee and vote for the right candidate who can bring the country back to the glory days of Clinton when the economy was booming and things were good.
and one more thing, so what Bill cheated on Hilary, how many men out there cheat on their wives on daily basis? or how many physically abuse their wives? please wake up to reality. what's worse cheating on your wife or abusing her physically or emotionally??? please there is at least one case of abuse in every single relationship in this country. but how do you go on with your relationships?? you forgive and learn and go on, because you need each other for different reasons, money, children etc. so think straight before you vote for the wrong candidate just because stupid Oprah said so. Oprah please.. I have no respect for her what's so ever and I am a smart engineer and very educated and well traveled woman. but I know how this world turns and I hate to see smart women turning against themselves just because of jealousy. shame on Oprah. have no respect for her.

Posted by: manuela.am.pop | January 7, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

The choice for Democrats in New Hampshire is clear:

Honesty vs. lack of honesty

Experience in life vs. experience in Washington

Fresh/inspirational vs. stale/canned

Trust in the people vs. trust in well-paid retainers/hangers-on

Ernestness vs. sense of entitlement

Decent family life vs. ... well, you know ...

Posted by: Martinedwinandersen | January 7, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

The choice for Democrats in New Hampshire is clear:

Honesty vs. lack of honesty

Experience in life vs. experience in Washington

Fresh vs. stale

Trust in the people vs. trust in well-paid retainers/hangers-on

Vision vs. self-centeredness

Learns from tough breaks vs. perpetual claims of victimhood

Happy warrior vs. sense of entitlement

Ernestness vs. arrogance

Decent family life vs. ... well, you know ...

Posted by: Martinedwinandersen | January 7, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

The choice for Democrats in New Hampshire is clear:

Honesty vs. lack of honesty

Experience in life vs. experience in Washington

Fresh vs. stale

Trust in the people vs. trust in well-paid retainers/hangers-on

Vision vs. self-centeredness

Learns from tough breaks vs. perpetual claims of victimhood

Happy warrior vs. sense of entitlement

Ernestness vs. arrogance

Decent family life vs. ... well, you know ...

Posted by: Martinedwinandersen | January 7, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Bradley's endorsement just solidified my support for Obama.
i too was 'heartbroken' in 2000 - and disillusioned with the democrats and what they had become.
the party establishment blew it in their undying allegience to Clintonian politics.
Gore was the Clinton heir and Bradley's chances (to win the party nomination)were completely diminished by the sheer weight of the fanatical faithful.
my father, a life-long republican, said to me then - that if he was ever going to vote for a democrat, Bradley would be it.
I truly believe then and now that Bradley would have defeated Gore - with his ability to attract independents and conservatives.
Bradely spoke to my sense of idealism and Obama has re-ignited that spirit.

Posted by: red2black8 | January 7, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse

As someone who was in NH in 2000, it is important to remember that when Gore ran in 2000, he was not the Gore that is hailed widely today. Back then Gore's campaign seemed as stodgy as Clinton's today, and Bradley actually offered a more action-oriented agenda. The Gore that everyone sees today didn't come about until after the 2000 elections unfortunately.

Posted by: ggadren | January 7, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Bill Bradley, a brilliant experienced man. His endorsment of B Obama has me seriously rethinking my Clinton vote.

Posted by: llieco | January 7, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Oh, please! The "Democratic establishment now looks on the verge of toppling"?! Get serious.

Posted by: JakeD | January 7, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

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