DES MOINES, Iowa — In presidential elections, the tallest candidate has always won. If the trend continues, the 6-foot-5-inch Bill Bradley stands a good chance of defeating the more vertically challenged candidates in the November general elections.
But first, Bradley, a former U.S. senator from New Jersey, needs to get past Vice President Al Gore to secure the Democratic Party’s nomination. The Jan. 24 Iowa precinct caucuses are the first step in the nomination process.
Like other candidates, Bradley aims to reach college-age voters. In a Des Moines Register article late last week, 42 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds support Bradley.
Bradley wants to “bring people into the political process who haven’t been engaged by politics,” said Kristen Ludecke, a campaign spokeswoman. “Students … have been fed up with the political system.”
Bradley spoke Tuesday afternoon at Iowa’s Simpson College, where Nate Boulton, president of the Iowa College Democrats, is a sophomore in secondary studies. Boulton said students would have a large impact on who wins the caucuses.
“In just a few years, we’ll be like everyone else: with a job and in the work force,” Boulton said. “People we elect will set up the conditions we live in when we get out of college.”
Bradley’s education plans include expanding access to community colleges. Since community colleges are usually students’ first college experiences, Bradley wants to ensure students — especially those who are financially disadvantaged — have equal access and affordability to them.
Bradley’s lifelong-learning proposal would provide $2 billion over five years for technology, jobs programs and making schedules more flexible. Bradley helped pass bills through the Senate that allowed homeowners to qualify for Pell Grants.
To capture the student vote, Bradley focused on his campaign Web site recognizing the strong role the Internet plays in students’ lives, Ludecke said. The site clarifies his stance on campaign issues such as abortion and education. Bradley recently launched another site about participating in caucuses, providing another tool for students to get involved.
William Warren Bradley, born July 28, 1943, in Crystal City, Mo., started his professional life as a basketball player for the New York Knicks.
After his undergraduate years at Princeton University and Rhodes Scholar years at Oxford University, Bradley interned in the Washington, D.C., congressional office of Richard Schweiker, R-Pa., as well as on the presidential campaign of former Pennsylvania Gov. William W. Scranton. Bradley later served in the U.S. Senate from 1978 to 1996.
Bradley has been profiled on MTV’s “Choose or Lose” program, and he plans to hold a youth debate in October if he is the party’s nominee. Bradley has also spoken to students in Iowa and New Hampshire, where the country’s first primaries were held Jan. 1.