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CNN Today

Super Tuesday: Campaign Worker Landsman Works Tirelessly, Devoted to Bill Bradley Campaign

Aired March 7, 2000 - 2:29 p.m. ET

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

DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: It seems unfair to write political epitaphs so early in the primary season, but that could be the reality for Bill Bradley after today.

CNN's Frank Buckley joins us from New York with more on what's at stake there for the Bradley campaign.

Hi, Frank.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good day.

Well, it's an important day for presidential candidates on both sides. John McCain also fighting for the very survival of his candidacy here in New York, as is Bill Bradley. So far, voter turnout in New York said to be moderate in New York City. Statewide, the board of elections says it's too early to tell how heavy voter interest will be. In the last presidential primary in 1996, the -- there was 26-percent turnout on the Republican side. Democrats did not have a contested primary in '96.

Given the good weather, however, and the hotly-contested races, there is anticipation of a strong showing of voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I voted for Al Gore because of the way the economy is right now. I don't think the economy -- I think the economy has been the best it's been in 25, 30 years, and I think it's going to continue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I voted for Bradley only because he's from the area, he's local, he understands the problem that we have, you know, in New York, New Jersey, whether they be environmental and any other issues.

I feel that most of the issues that Al Gore has -- has presented are my beliefs, and I think he'll make a strong president. I didn't feel too confident with a lot of the other candidates. Bill Bradley's a fine man, but I don't think he has the experience that Al Gore has had.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BUCKLEY: Few people are watching this day, watching the polls as closely as some of the campaign workers who've been on the road with the respective candidate for the past several months. This past week, CNN was given access to one such campaign and followed one such campaign worker on the Bradley campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is now my absolute pleasure to introduce to you the next president of the United States of America, Senator Bill Bradley.

BUCKLEY (voice-over): It's the image of the day on the Bill Bradley campaign: It's Bradley the winner cheered on by a huge crowd. But the image is deceiving.

Bradley is down in the polls. There are few signs of hope and the end may be near.

But don't tell that to Greg Landsman. He's an advance man for Bradley. His job: to arrive before the candidate. Make all of the arrangements.

GREG LANDSMAN, BRADLEY CAMPAIGN WORKER: Sounds, lights, banners, balloons, and have a confetti blower. You have to rent the space. We had to get sponsored for the event. It's our job to present the candidate and the campaign in a really positive, pleasant, you know, effective light.

BUCKLEY: He's 23 years old, on his first presidential campaign, completely dedicated to Bill Bradley, despite the polls that say he's doomed.

(on camera): Do you see Bill Bradley in the White House?

LANDSMAN: Yes, absolutely.

BUCKLEY: You don't think Gore's going to destroy him on Tuesday?

LANDSMAN: No, I hope not.

BUCKLEY (voice-over): And so Greg presses on in California. While Bill Bradley campaigns in Washington State, Greg Landsman is at UCLA, preparing for Bradley's next stop.

LANDSMAN: Can you tell me how much 400 balloons and one of the jumbo helium tank is going to cost me?

BUCKLEY: In case you thought everyone who works for Bradley did it for the cause guess again. Greg's got checks for everyone, from stage hands to band members, and everyone seems to want their money up front.

LANDSMAN: I have it in my pocket. It was actually for 500.

BUCKLEY: If all goes right, says Greg, it's money well-spent. LANDSMAN: If it's a great shot, it increases the chances of someone waking up in the morning and opening The New York Times and having that be the picture.

BUCKLEY: But the picture of Bradley now is of a campaign in its final days.

LANDSMAN: Landsman to Picket (ph), Landsman to Picket, over.

BUCKLEY: Landsman joined the campaign back in November, leaving a steady job in Washington as a congressional aide, part of a team on the road every day.

(on camera): When was your last day off?

LANDSMAN: I haven't had one. I had a morning off once. I slept in.

BUCKLEY: You had a morning off? You haven't had a day off in how long?

LANDSMAN: No, I mean, I've had easy days. I mean, I've had days that aren't as stressful as others.

BUCKLEY (voice-over): To Landsman, this campaign is more like a crusade, not a job.

(on camera): You're a true believer?

LANDSMAN: Absolutely, yes. It's a good feeling, it's a good feeling to work for someone that -- that in every done encounter I've had with him has been -- you just sort of -- you become actually less cynical than more.

BUCKLEY: I suspect that the guys that you went to high school with, went to college with, you know, they're all embarking on law careers or going into business, making big bucks.

LANDSMAN: Maybe.

BUCKLEY: I suspect that your salary is less than some of them.

LANDSMAN: Sure.

BUCKLEY: You're not in this for the money, are you?

LANDSMAN: But certainly I would think that, you know, the kinds of thing I get to do and how important they are, I think people are, I would suspect, be more envious me than how much money they make.

BUCKLEY (voice-over): But Greg's enthusiasm is tested at every turn. Today it's the Secret Service. Greg walks agent Mike Dixon through every step the senator will take. Landsman doesn't want anything to block the photo-op. The Secret Service has its own considerations. And sometimes, the concerns clash. MIKE DIXON, SECRET SERVICE: I mean, the motorcades still has to be up here by the stage. That's a security requirement, and that's above my head.

BUCKLEY: The campaign wants to pack the stage behind Bradley with supporters, which doesn't sit so well with the Secret Service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I tell you right now, we're going to err on the side of caution.

BUCKLEY: They eventually reach an understanding, and the Secret Service begins checking the supporters that will gather on the stage.

LANDSMAN: We're brining the senator on the stage, over.

BUCKLEY (on camera): We saw you in the crowd. You looked like you had a concerned, maybe even an upset look on your face. What was happening during the event that we didn't know about?

LANDSMAN: There was a moment when the press feed, sound wasn't going back, and it's your job to make sure that it's going to the cameras, and there was this brief second where it wasn't. So it was a little -- you know, it was a little tense.

BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

BUCKLEY (voice-over): But the sound is fixed and so is the image of the day. The event is a success.

But image isn't everything, and that evening it becomes clear that Bradley is crushed in the Washington State primary.

(on camera): The headlines and the pundits declared Bradley the walking dead as a candidate after that loss in Washington State, but Bradley is conceding nothing, his campaign refocusing away from the West Coast into where it believes Bradley is strongest -- in the Northeast and here, where it all began along the banks of the Mississippi River, in his home state of Missouri.

(voice-over): Of course, Greg Landsman is here first, arriving ahead of the senator in what may be the darkest hours of the campaign. It is now the Saturday before Super Tuesday, but even here, in a state where Bradley grew up, Bradley is fighting for his political life.

(on camera): Tell me about morale.

LANDSMAN: Still as high as it ever is because there's just nothing that you can -- there's nothing about this campaign that, I think, went wrong or that didn't work or someone's fault.

BUCKLEY (voice-over): Despite Greg's optimism and hope that Bradley will do well on Super Tuesday, even the true believer can't help but to sometimes speak of the campaign as if it were already over. LANDSMAN: This campaign was about bringing service back to politics and it wasn't about winning as much as it was about just doing something that was going to provide an opportunity for people to participate again, because it was about service. It was about what he believed he could do and what he can do and what he will do, I guess, for the country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BUCKLEY: Well, Bill Bradley is the only candidate for the presidential nomination who is campaigning today in New York, signifying perhaps how important this state is to New York. Conventional wisdom would say this is the state where he should be the strongest. He played for the New York Knicks here, he's very well known and very well liked, he was the senator from neighboring New Jersey for 18 years. He will find out later tonight if that has paid off.

Frank Buckley, CNN reporting live from New City.

KELLEY: All right, Frank, thank you.

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