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CNN Today

Election 2000: 'Bradley Challenge Was Noble But Futile'

Aired March 6, 2000 - 2:08 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Reports suggest that Bradley is quietly making plans to withdraw from the race sometime after tomorrow. In an appearance today in the Bronx, Bradley encouraged high school students to keep pushing even when things seem futile. For the former Rhodes Scholar, it the had the ring of a valedictory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the thing to remember is that those who love you are watching you and they're expecting the greatest from you. You say, love me, watch me. You mean my parents? Yes, but even beyond that, and you probably already had this feeling, that those who love you are watching and they're expecting the greatest from you. And that would be maybe kids on the block. Oh, look, goes to law, government and justice. I want to be like him or I want to be like her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

In addition to being winless against Gore, Bradley trails in most of the Super Tuesday states. In some, he trails big.

We turn now to our senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

Hello, Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Howdy.

ALLEN: Big day before the big day, and Bill Bradley, did he sound like he's giving his valedictory there?

SCHNEIDER: Well, he sounded a bit resigned to what's likely to be his fate because, at the moment, we don't find Bill Bradley ahead in a single state; not even within single digits. It looks like Al Gore may have a clean sweep of tomorrow's Democratic primaries, in which case there's really no option for Bill Bradley but to get out of the race for the sake of the party.

ALLEN: Even Bradley has said he must win two of the 16 Democratic contests tomorrow, and you don't see that happening.

SCHNEIDER: We can't find them. I mean, he's a little closer in New England than he is in other states, but still being beaten by double digits by Al Gore. Al Gore looks like he's going to wipe him out tomorrow. And the Bradley challenge was noble but futile.

ALLEN: Do you think that -- what do you make of the fact that Gore has turned his attention, at least most recently, to Bush? He's talking about this -- the latest campaign ads, the same ads that McCain is seizing on, calling the people, quote, "sleazy Texans" who are supporting Bush here. What do you think of Gore moving ahead there?

SCHNEIDER: I think Gore feels assures that he's going to get the nomination and he wants to unify the party. The best way to do that is to run a general election campaign in which he says, the enemy isn't Bradley, the enemy is Bush, the apparent likely nominee on the Republican side, and he wants to start that race right now so he can unify the party.

What's interesting about the Bradley challenge is that it didn't materialize. I'd say, for one thing, liberals have bought into the Clinton consensus. New Democrats -- Gore's victory confirms that the new Democratic persuasion that Clinton invented and pushed has taken charge of the Democratic Party. Bradley led the liberals to say, we don't buy into this. We want something bigger, great enterprises the way the Democrats used to be. It didn't work. The liberals are satisfied with Clinton.

And second of all, they're not convinced Gore is a loser. They took one look at George W. Bush in the debates and they said, wait a minute, we think Gore can take this guy. So they weren't going to overthrow Gore because they thought he couldn't win.

ALLEN: What about John McCain's hopes for a new Republican Party uniting behind him? Any chance for him tomorrow?

SCHNEIDER: Well, he could win a few states. I mean, look, Donna said it a few minutes ago: New England, he's ahead in that region, very close in New York. California, he can't win any delegates, it doesn't look like. All the polls show him trailing Bush by double digits. He could win the beauty contest, which would give him a kind of moral victory, a mandate, he believes, to continue. I don't see how he's going to continue very much longer. Next week, we have Texas, we have Florida. Those are governed by guys named Bush. Oklahoma, Tennessee -- I mean, those don't look very promising for John McCain. His last hope might be Illinois, but I don't think he can keep going any longer than that.

ALLEN: All right, Bill Schneider. Big day tomorrow and you'll be here for it?

SCHNEIDER: Oh, yes.

ALLEN: Thank you, Bill. See you soon.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

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