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Bradley endorses Dean

'An idealist who's willing to be tough'

Bill Bradley and Howard Dean shared a stage in Manchester, New Hampshire, Tuesday, as Bradley gave Dean his endorsement.
Bill Bradley and Howard Dean shared a stage in Manchester, New Hampshire, Tuesday, as Bradley gave Dean his endorsement.

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Bill Bradley endorses Howard Dean in New Hampshire on Tuesday.
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MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) -- Saying Howard Dean is more an idealist than an angry candidate, former Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey gave his endorsement Tuesday to the Democratic presidential candidate at a boisterous rally in New Hampshire.

"The pundits say Howard Dean is an angry guy," Bradley said, "but I say that he's an idealist who's willing to be tough in pursuit of his vision. You can't use nuance with someone as radical as George Bush. You have to be blunt and relentless in telling the truth about what he has done."

"In 2000 many Americans in Iowa and New Hampshire gave me their support and across the country gave me their support and I continue to consider their support a sacred trust," Bradley said. "This year many of them have asked me who among this very capable group of candidates I would recommend. My answer is Howard Dean."

"In 2000, the Supreme Court declared that George Bush had defeated Al Gore, but his Code Orange warnings continue to remind us Bush has not defeated al Qaeda. As a Democrat, I wanted him to lose against Gore, but as an American I desperately wanted him to win against al Qaeda," Bradley said. "Sadly, he still has not."

Dean followed Bradley at the podium to thank the former senator "not because it's the endorsement of another big name -- that is always a welcome thing -- but because it is the endorsement of a thoughtful, careful person who sought to lead this country with honor and integrity and who stood up against the same forces that we're standing up against in Washington."

"What we want is a foreign policy consistent with American values," Dean said, "and I promise you that if you make me president of the United States I will restore the honor and the dignity and the respect that this country deserves in the rest of the world by embarking on a foreign policy which is principally based on cooperation, not confrontation."

Dean stunned the Democratic establishment last month when he won the backing of former Vice President Al Gore.

Bradley, who challenged Gore for the 2000 presidential nomination and came close to winning the New Hampshire primary, has been talking with Dean for several months. (Poll: Dean starts 2004 leading Dems)

Several top Bradley campaign aides are now working for Dean, including national spokesman Jay Carson and political director Gina Glantz.

Dean has invited Democrats in New Hampshire to attend a previously unscheduled event Tuesday in Manchester for what aides are describing as "a very special breakfast'' at which "a surprise endorsement is in store.'' (The Iowa debate: Dean lumps rivals with Bush)

Previously, Dean had been scheduled to attend a breakfast in Iowa on Tuesday morning, before attending an afternoon candidate forum in Des Moines.

The endorsement is said to have been in the works for several weeks, although sources say Bradley signed off on the move only last weekend.

Other New Jersey Democrats last month backed Dean, including Gov. Jim McGreevey, House Democratic Conference Chairman Robert Menendez and Rep. Rush Holt.

Dean is currently working on securing the endorsement of early-primary governors, including Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano. (CNN.com's interactive Election Calendar)

Gephardt dismissive

Rep. Dick Gephardt, the Missouri Democrat who is Dean's closest competitor in Iowa, dismissed the endorsement.

"We'd all like to be endorsed by everybody, but I'll say again, Iowans are independent," the former House Minority leader said.

"They don't really listen to anybody, they make their own judgment, and they make their own choice of who they want to vote for."

In a recent interview with sfpolitics.com, a California Web site devoted to politics, Bradley said Dean "has the strongest free-media presence [of the Democratic contenders] and he has managed to broaden that to a broader protest and critique of the Bush administration.

"The last things he got to do, he has to be able to broaden that to a broader agenda, more than simply anti-war," Bradley added.

"And he has to have an aspirational component to what he is saying so that people will feel that they are empowered by him to be as good as they can possibly be.''

Bradley, who served with John Kerry in the Senate for several years, had little to say about his former colleague, who is battling to regain his footing against Dean in Iowa and New Hampshire. (Kerry proposes tax credit for creating jobs)

Asked about Kerry by sfpolitics.com, Bradley said, "Well, let's go on.''

CNN's John Mercurio contributed to this report.


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