Campaign Countdown 2000
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May 31, 1999

Bill Bradley on the game.

(Des Moines, IA) Democrat presidential candidate Bill Bradley, a member of the National Basketball Association's Hall of Fame, made sure he was near a television set Sunday night.

"I caught the last part of the Knicks game...the last six minutes when it was iced," Bradley joked with reporters Monday.

Bradley was a New York Knick for ten years. In his rookie season in  '67, he "endured boos and jeers from the Knicks crowd" according to Bradley's biography on the Internet. Bradley stayed with it, eventually scoring 10,438 points in his career and helping the Knicks win N.B.A. championships in 1972/73 and 1969/70.

One of Bradley's connections to the present-day Knicks team stems from his days as a U.S. Senator from New Jersey. Knick center Patrick Ewing, once a student at Georgetown, served as a summer intern for the U.S. Senate's Finance committee.

"He ended up marrying the daughter of a woman who worked in my office," Bradley said. "So, I've followed him on a personal basis."

Both men have been active in the N.B.A.'s union. For seven years, Bradley was the Knick's representative to the players' union. Ewing is now the president of that union.

"Once a Knick, always a Knick," Bradley said. "I would really like for (Ewing) to win a championship. He deserves it. He's the ultimate worker."

That is often the way Bradley is described, as a guard who constantly ran the floor, looking for an opening.

Now, Bradley is in a different arena, politics, and he spent his Memorial Day attending a Veteran's memorial service in Des Moines, then paid a visit to a Veteran's Home in Marshalltown, Iowa.

"I think this is a day where we reconize those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in terms of serving their country and giving their lives so we can all be free," Bradley said.

Bradley served in the Air Force reserve for six monhts of active duty in 1967, just before beginning his N.B.A. career. Bradley remained a reserve for five years and left the military as a first lieutenant.

Bradley sat with over 200 military veterans and their spouses in the mid-day ceremony in Des Moines, but he did not speak to the crowd. He did stand with other Air Force veterans when they were recognized, his head clearly visibile above the crowd because of his height.

Bradley staffers told reporters it wasn't really a "campaign stop" for Bradley, although he was introduced to the crowd. Most of the crowd, however, was there for the ceremony, not to meet a presidential wanna-be.

"It's a little too early to monkey with them guys, yet," said Jim Fouse of Des Moines, a veteran of World War II.

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May 29, 1999

Bauer says war in Kosovo highlights need for beefed-up military.

(Des Moines, IA) Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer on Saturday said the war in Kosovo has highlighted the need to beef-up the U.S. Military.

"We're supposed to have a two-and-a-half war strategy, that we could fight two-and-a-half wars at the same time," Bauer said. "We're already running out of ammunition in a war in Kosovo. Something is deeply wrong and it ought to be a major issue in the campaign."

Bauer said if elected, he'd commit at least $50 billion over the next six years to re-build American defenses. Among his complaints, a decrease in U.S. Army divisions and fighter air wings, a 50-percent reduction in the number of ships in the Navy's fleet, as well as aging military hardware.

Bauer said it's wrong that 17,000 service members are paid so little they qualify for food stamps.

"If we're asking a son or daughter of Iowa or any other state to put themselves in harm's way, and make all those sacrifices, they ought to be getting a salary from the American people that would allow them to not be below the poverty level," he said.

Bauer acknowledged the military establishment is part of the problem.

"We all know there's waste in the Pentagon, and as President, I would aggressively deal with that waste...but even the waste aside, this has still been, for almost 10 years now, every year less (defense) expenditures than the year before. When you run out of air-launch cruise missiles two weeks into the war with Kosovo, how in the world are you going to deal with communist China down the road?," Bauer said.

Bauer made his comments in a news conference which used as a backdrop the Iowa Veterans Memorial on the statehouse grounds. Bauer said America has gone through cycles in this century where military preparedness has fallen by the wayside.

"It happened in World War I. We were shocked by Pearl Harbor in World War II. We were ill-prepared for Vietnam. The world is becoming, in its own way, more and more dangerous. We're not going to have a lot of lead time if we get in trouble again, so I would hope this Memorial day, whether a person considers themselves a hawk or a dove, that we would all agree that America has to be more prepared in a dangerous world," Bauer said.

Bauer has taken a leave of absence from the conservative "Family Research Council" to run for president. He served as an advisor and top bureaucrat in the Reagan Administration.

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May 20, 1999

Bradley calls for stronger gun restrictions.

(Des Moines, IA)  Democrat presidential candidate Bill Bradley on Thursday said guns are "too readily available" to American teenagers, and told reporters he'll soon propose gun restrictions which go beyond those being debated in the U.S. Senate.

The former New Jersey Senator's comments came at a news conference just three hours after the latest U.S. school shooting incident. Bradley said it's clear something's wrong when one school shooting has such a "contagious effect" around the country.  Bradley said Thursday's shooting in suburban Atlanta "adds another impetus" for new restrictions on the purchase of guns.

"You have to finally face up to the fact in America that guns are too readily available to young people, that guns are too readily available generally, that we can protect the right of a hunter to hunt and at the same time make it more difficult for people to get access to handguns," Bradley said.

According to Bradley, the gun control bill the Clinton Administration and U.S. Senators have been arguing over doesn't go far enough.

"To reduce the number of gun dealers, to regulate the gun shows, to make it illegal to possess (a gun) if you're under age 21, those are minimum things,"  Bradley said.  "I think before this is over, we're going to have to do something much stronger."

When pressed by reporters for details, Bradley said he had "some ideas" but wasn't prepared to talk publicly about his gun restriction proposals.

"Stay tuned," Bradley said.

During campaign appearances on Thursday and earlier on Wednesday evening, Bradley issued a note of caution about gun restrictions and other measures crafted in response to the shooting rampage in Littleton, Colorado.

"Anybody that tells you they have a facile, easy answer, you need to be skeptical," Bradley said in response to a question from a potential supporter Wednesday night.  "This was a tragedy, but keep this in perspective."

Bradley said every week in America, 13 kids are killed by a gun...and many of those kids are in urban, rather than suburban, America.

"There's a degree of seriousness and a breadth of the problem that's not solved by a quick, 30 second soundbite by a politician," Bradley told reporters Thursday.  "This is a much deeper issue for us."

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May 16, 1999

Gore proposes army of on-line tutors.

LAMONI, Iowa, May 16 (Reuters) - Al Gore on Sunday proposed paying $10,000 to professionals who become teachers and the creation of an army of on-line tutors in what was billed as the Democratic front-runner's first major policy address of the presidential campaign.

"Some say that there is no national role in helping communities improve their schools. I say that education is our No. 1 national priority for investing in the future," Vice President Gore, sporting an academic cap and gown, told a college graduation ceremony.

Fresh from the weekend opening his Iowa campaign office, where the February caucuses will be the first major test of the presidential campaign, Gore received more than a dozen ovations from an appreciative audience that included the 439 graduates of Graceland College, a school founded in 1958 by the Reformed Church of Latter-Day Saints.

Gore, currently the front-runner for the Democratic nomination with a double-digit lead in early polls over his sole rival, former Sen. Bill Bradley, laid out what he termed his "ambitious but reasonable" education agenda. He proposed:
   - Offering $10,000 bonuses to talented professionals willing to switch to teaching.
   - Giving new teachers up to $10,000 for college if they teach for four years in high-need schools, such as in inner cities.
   - Making it easier to get rid of bad teachers.
   - Creating higher standards for new teachers, including mandatory skills tests.
   - Making preschool available to every child.
   - Creating "second-chance schools" for kids who have been expelled or appear headed for serious trouble.
   - Reducing class sizes to a national average of 18 in lower grades and to an average of 20 in all grades.
   - Creating smaller high schools, instead of the gigantic "factory-style" schools that he linked to recent high-profile violent attacks by students.

"We should commit ourselves to fundamentally changing the American high school," Gore said. "We've done some things wrong in education and here's one of them: Herding all students in a 25-square-mile (65-sq-km) area into overcrowded, factory-style high schools where individuals get lost.

"When teachers and principals must practice crowd control, it becomes impossible to spot the early warning signs of violence, depression or academic failure; and it becomes even harder to do something about it," he said.

He said parents need more school choice, but rejected the concept of providing vouchers for public school students to attend private and parochial schools as a "false promise."

"That would only make things much worse," he said of vouchers, which are championed by many Republicans.

Gore, a strong advocate of outfitting every school with computers with access to the Internet, urged the creation of a volunteer army of on-line tutors and mentors.

And he suggested that families be offered the incentive of tax-free savings accounts to accumulate school tuition for their children.

"We help people save for retirement tax-free, and help them pay their mortgages tax-free, now we must help them save tax-free for one of the biggest expenses most families will ever have in life: sending a child to college," he said.

Gore said 20 states have tuition savings programs, and he encouraged other states to adopt them.

Gore also proposed that employers create "401-J" accounts for their employees-- similar to the untaxed contributions to workers' 401-K retirement savings accounts -- that would go to pay for job training and continuing education.

Reaction to Gore's speech in a steamy campus athletic arena was nearly uniformly favorable.

"I thought it was a fantastic speech. I could tell very much he was interested in education and that's the answer to our problems in the world today," said Larry Norris of St. Joseph, Missouri.

But Republican presidential candidate Lamar Alexander, a former U.S. secretary of education, said Gore's education proposals amounted to creation of a "national school board" that promised only mediocrity.

"He wants teachers whose qualifications would be set in Washington," Alexander said in a telephone interview. "It's a question of who knows what's best -- Washington or the local school boards, teachers and parents."

Alexander suggested the federal government provide $1,500 scholarships to middle- and low-income students that would be allocated at the local level to anything from building more schools to paying teachers more.

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May 14, 1999

Dole courting democrat and independent voters.

(Des Moines, IA) Republican presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole is courting democrat and independent voters in hopes they'll show up for the February 7, 2000 Iowa Caucuses, the first major test of the campaign.

"Let's see what happens because a lot of people are saying, 'I want to come over. I want to be part of this," Dole told reporters in Des Moines after a Friday morning speech.

After her speech to employees of an insurance company, Dole stood at the room's exit to shake hands with the workers.

"I've been dreaming of a woman president since I was a little girl," one woman told Dole. "With your help, let's go do it," Dole replied. "Let's make history."

Dole said later that another "lady came through just then and said, "I'm a democrat, but I think you just converted me to be a republican,' and I said, "Well, we need good democrats for Dole, too."

Iowa's Caucuses traditionally attract party regulars rather than cross-over voters. Over 2,000 neighborhood meetings, or "caucuses," are staged in voting precincts throughout the state. The meetings can last all night long as participants debate political issues as well as their preferences in the presidential race. Experts believe the caucuses have little appeal to voters who have little or not history of party allegiance. For example, attendance for the 1996 Iowa Republican caucuses was just over 96,000 in a state with just under 3 million residents. (editor: 2.77 million according to last census)

"I really believe we're seeing over-flow crowds at all of our events as we travel across the country... because there are a lot of people who are coming out who've never been active in presidential politics
before," Dole said during her speech.

In recent speeches and again on Friday, Dole has diverted from her G.O.P. competitors by advocating gun restrictions, like a ban on assault weapons, rapid-fire guns which dole says are not used by hunters or by citizens who want to defend their families. Dole favors a controversial idea being debated in the U.S. Senate: requiring mandatory background checks of all persons who try to buy a gun at a gun show.

"But it's not going to work unless we have full-funding, which Clinton/Gore have not provided. They cut the money for instant background checks," Dole said.

And while over half the states have laws which allow citizens to carry concealed or hidden weapons, Dole opposes the practice.

"I think carry concealed weapons is wrong," Dole said. dole said if elected President, she would not impose a nationwide ban on concealed weapons as "it's up to the states to decide." Dole praised Iowa's concealed weapons law which allows only law enforcement officers, body guards or those who handle large amounts of cash to carry concealed weapons.

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May 6, 1999

Dole concerned Clinton might back down in Kosovo.

(undated) Republican presidential hopeful Elizabeth Dole on Thursday expressed concern that President Clinton may back down from his commitments in Kosovo.

"To the extent that there is a compromise of principles that President Clinton said were non-negotiable, then I think that is unfortunate," Dole said during a telephone interview.

Dole said Clinton should insist on having NATO involved in any peace enforcement in the Balkans. A proposed peace settlement reportedly would put the United Nations in charge of protecting Kosovar Albanians when they return to their homes.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has said NATO and the U.S. must be allowed to participate in the peace enforcement. Dole, who pronounces Kosovo in the manner ethnic Albanians prefer, is worried resolve will melt as Russian negotiators insist NATO may only be involved if Yugoslav leaders agree.

"I think the objective was to achieve peace in Kosovo," Dole said. "Now, it seems that the primary objective is to get the Russians on board and avoid ground troops. I'm disturbed, particularly, that an agreement would drop references to NATO."

Dole said any peace deal must ensure that Serb troops are out of Kosovo.

"Right now, there are more forces in there than when we started the bombing. Those forces must be removed," she said. "I think the best way to move forward is still a NATO-led force that secures the area, makes sure it's safe for the Albanian Kosovars to go back to their homes."

Dole visited the region in April and had been among those calling for ground troops "to win the war absolutely" as she contends the U.S. should never stand for genocidal behavior and instability in Europe. Earlier this year, Dole's husband, Bob, tried to broker a deal to avoid the crisis in Kosovo.

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April 21, 1999

Quayle says school shooting calls for soul-searching.

(Washington, D.C.) Former Vice President Dan Quayle on Wednesday said the school shooting in Colorado underscores the need for some national "soul-searching" about our society.

"What happened in Colorado is sad, tragic and hard to understand," Quayle said during an interview. "Perhaps we'll never know what happened since (the two suspects) have taken their lives, but clearly there's something wrong today. You look at all the wealth and prosperity and how everything's humming along and then all of a sudden another one of these school shootings occurs. This is unfortunatley a pattern..and I think we need to do some soul-searching."

The two young men suspected of conducting the school massacre are reported to have been fans of shock-rocker Marilyn Manson.

"There's no regulation that can be passed, there's no law that can regulate what the content is going to be on our television screen or what kind of movies are going to be produced because we do have freedom of speech which we do respect and we all believe in, however, that doesn't mean there's not corporate responsibility," Quayle said.

While he was Vice President, Quayle sparked a national debate about the entertainment industry when he took on "Murphy Brown" for its positive portrayal of a single mother having a baby out-of-wedlock.

"People need to step back and say, 'Why is this all going on?' and look at all the violence and everything else that's on television. It's reported that by the time a child graduates from eighth grade, they will have witnessed 8,000 murders on television. Can't we do with less? Those that produce these films...need to think about some young, emotional disturbed individual might take this to heart," Quayle said.

In remarks prepared for a Wednesday evening speech to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Quayle lambasts the "Kyoto" international treaty which will enforce global environmental standards.

"What we have today is some extremism," Quayle said during an interview beforehand. "One of the things I'm very concerned about is this Kyoto agreement which will create an international tribunal of regulators that could possibly have the authority to come in and shut down plants," Quayle said.

Quayle said the United States has the best environmental laws in the world and the best way to spread good stewardship would be to export "our freemarket ideas because if countries grow and prosper, they take their environmental responsibilities much more seriously."

Quayle said the treaty excludes "big-time polluters" like China. Quayle said he'll discuss the issue on the campaign trail often to highlight Vice President Al Gore's "extremism" on the issue.

"(Gore's) approach to the environment is just more and more regulation," Quayle said.

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April 19, 1999

College professor hopes Bradley challenge more than wishful thinking.

(Grinnell, IA) Grinnell College classics professor Gerry Lalonde is tired of politics as usual, and is hoping Bill Bradley's challenge of Vice President Al Gore is more than "wishful thinking."

"One can easily become cynical and believe this idea that the person who has the most money has the nomination sewed up," Lalonde said. " I don't want to believe it and if there's something I can do to disprove it, I want to do that."

Lelonde was among a crowd of over 220 who met with Bradley on a Saturday morning in Grinnell's Community Center. Lelonde pointedly asked Bradley about the seeming "pre-destination" of Gore, a candidate Lelonde -- a registered democrat -- will not support.

"I think he (Gore) is tainted by his association with the administration, especially in the last term. I don't think he has shown himself to be an independent and thinking force of the sort that I potentially see in Bill Bradley," Lelonde said.

With the dress and demeanor of a professor, the former New Jersey Senator touched on a wide variety of issues during his meeting in Grinnell, such as having public school teachers evaluate other teachers to "get rid of the deadwood" and letting voters cast their ballots via the Internet.

"It's obvious that he's done stuff other than politics and that he's taught classes and he kind of spoke to the college students in a way that we could understand," said Seth Gitter, a Grinnell student from Columbus, Ohio. "I'm into politics. I'm hopefully a political science major, and I'd like to volunteer in one of the I'm just looking and feeling out the fcandidates but so far, I think I like Bill Bradley the best...He actually said some things that are different from what alot of politicians are saying nowadays."

Gitter and other students looked through old copies of Sports Illustrated which showed Bradley starring in the NBA for the New York Knicks. The memorabilia, including high school yearbooks, was the property of hometown friends of Bradley's who drove from Crystal City, Missouri to campaign with their former neighbor.

"To us, it's still Bill. Just as nice and down to earth as a guy could possibly be," said Rolla Herbert. Herbert is six years older than Bradley and remembers him as a baby. The Herbert's back door led, across their yards, to the Bradley's back door. Herbert said the townsfolk expected Bradley to leave for the big lights of a big city.

"We knew the vehicle was going to be basketball, but we also knew that wasn't going to be the end all. He's always been interested in politics. He was the president of the Missouri State Student Council..and even at that time, we could hear people saying that guy's going to be President of the United States someday," Herbert said.

Dick Cook has known Bradley for 45 years and refers to Bradley as the hometown hero.

"I think Bill's integrity anbd his honesty, his flawless reputation will, as we talk about them, come to the top," Cook said.

Bradley stressed his Midwestern roots in Crystal City, a town with "one stop light," where he was an only child raised by a banker-father and college-educated mother.

"My mother always wanted me to be a success. My father always wanted me to be a gentleman and neither one of them wanted me to be a politician," Bradley joked.

He repeated the sentiments later Saturday as he addressed the 50-member Iowa Democrat Party Central Committee. Bradley was forced to sit in a low-slung chair at the front of the room as Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller gave a 10 minute speech extolling the virtues of his choice in the Presidential race, Vice President Gore.

"(Gore) has the single most important grasp of issues this side of Bill Clinton," MIller said. After Miller made a short vertal salute to Bradley's integrity, Bradley turned his head to a side corridor and rolled his eyes at one of his childhood friends.

Once the floor was his, Bradley said it was time for a President who has "big ideas" such as resolving racial strife and building an economy in which all share in the wealth.

"I think there are alot of people in the country who are doing well economically but who recognize their are things we still need to do in order to realize our promise," Bradley said.

Newly-elected Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Rob Tully has not endorsed a candidate, and gives Bradley credit for not taking the Vice President's "perceived lead" for granted.

"He's doing everything he needs to do," said newly-elected Iowa Democrat Party Chairman Rob Tully. "This is going to be a competitive race."

Many members of the party's leadership squad lean toward supporting Gore, but officially remain neutral, waiting for a "shoe to drop" -- like combat troops in Kosovo or more campaign fundraising questions.

"I was impressed (with Bradley) but I expected to be," said Jean Pardee of Clinton, Iowa, who describes her support of Gore as "fluid." "I like (Bradley's) call for challenge and to do the hard things."

After his audition before party leadership. Bradley told reporters he's in "good shape" for connecting with Iowans and finishing well in what he calls his "one-on-one" race against the Vice President.

"I'm actually fairly encouraged about this," Bradley said. "I believe we're going to do well. There's a long way to go."

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April 15, 1999

Campaign launched to cut military spending.

(Des Moines, IA) A $700,000 publicf relations campaign has been launched to tout a 15 percent cutting in U.S. military spending.

Bankrolled by a group known as "Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities," the campaign will spend $300,000 on radio and television advertising. In addition, some of the group's staff will travel around the country in a 40-foot bus for the next two years to build support for their cause.

Des Moines Mayor Preston Daniels is a founding member of "Iowans for Sensible Priorities," which will attempt to pester presidential candidates on the issue of defense spending.

"As a lifelong Iowan, I know that we do indeed support sensible priorities, given our state's populist spirit and unique role in the presidential election," Daniels said during a statehouse news conference Thursday. "Iowa is an ideal place for this campaign to catch fire and move quickly across the national landscape."

Daniels discounts the idea military cuts cannot come while U.S. soldiers are fighting in Kosovo.

"Iowans are patriotic, and I do believe we've got to stand behind our fighting troops. We must make sure we maintain a strong defense and provide our soldiers with the best training and equipment, but we also suspect our taxdeollars are not well spent by the Pentagon. There is waste, mismangement and poor strategic decisions that result in billions of dollars wasted each year."

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, a democrat from Iowa, has joined the "Iowans for Sensible Priorities" group and argued there's fat in the Pentagon's $290 billion dollar budget.

"A cruise missile shortage in the Kosovo conflict is hardly a justification to reach into the taxpayers' pockets for tens of billions in increased spending," Harkin said.

Retired Vice Admiral John Shanahan accuserd politicians of bloating the Pentagon budget for pet projects which help get them re-elecfted to Congress.

"We need to get politics and special interests out of the Pentagon," he said.

Shanahan and the other group members suggest the Pentagon is wasting scarce resources which would be better spent on domestic needs, like education.

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Apirl 16, 1999

Bauer opposes US troops in Serbia

(Des Moines, IA) Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer on Friday said U.S. troops should not go into combat in Serbia.

"If troops on the ground are needed and this is such a severe problem, then European nations ought to provide the troops," Bauer told reporters during a news conference in Des Moines.

Bauer said the United States is already providing 70 percent of the aircraft and munitiions used in the NATO bombing campaign.

"You have major countries in Europe -- France, Germany, Great Britian, Italy, etcetera -- if this is a matter of supreme importance to European security, then they ought to bear the brunt of any kind of combat forces on the ground," Bauer said.

Like many other Republican presidential hopefuls, Bauer said President Clinton has gotten the U.S. into the conflict without explaining the objectives or a strategy for winning.

"The President has not demonstrated that he's got a way to solve a crisis or conflict that literally has been raging since 1350...Whether it's been the Albanians with the upper hand or the Serbs with the upperhand, they have treated each other with an incredible amount of inhumanity. That's a terrible thing. It offends our conscience, but how in the world are American boys flying over Kosovo dropping bombsgoing to stop something that's been going on for over 600 years?" Bauer said.

Bauer was a domestic policy advisor to President Reagan and has taken a leave of adsence from his job as president of the Family PolicyCouncil.

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