Bradley uses layover to discuss issues

by Megan Boldt

Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Bradley made the most of his 15-minute layover in Bloomington Friday afternoon by shaking hands with supporters and discussing issues ranging from higher education to gay and lesbian rights.
The former New Jersey senator made a quick refueling stop in the Twin Cities on his way to campaign in Seattle, Wash.
After meeting supporters one-on-one, Bradley discussed his higher education initiatives.
Bradley described his scholarship plan to provide 60,000 students with federal scholarships and loans, if they agree to work in urban or rural schools for a certain period of time.
He said the program would help by “infusing our public school system in the places that most need teachers over the next decade with another 600,000 teachers.”
Bradley also said he would extend supplemental loans to college students.
“These are loans that allow you to pay back as a percent of your future income as opposed to a giant loan obligation right when you get out of college,” Bradley said.
He added community college students comprise 50 percent of students in higher education.
“And yet community colleges receive only 5 percent of the federal higher education dollars,” Bradley said. His plan would increase federal funding to community colleges.
Bradley also touched on his relationship with the gay and lesbian community.
Even with the Human Rights Campaign, a gay/lesbian rights organization, endorsing Vice President Al Gore, Bradley said he has strong support in the gay and lesbian community.
“I think that was expected because basically it’s a Washington-based organization and that was the basis in which the endorsement was made,” Bradley said.
Bradley is battling both Gore and Republican underdog, Arizona Sen. John McCain, for independent voters.
According to recent polls, many independent voters would either vote for Bradley or McCain.
“What people are drawn to is that we’re both reformers,” Bradley said. “After that, there is a world of difference.”
Since the New Hampshire primary in mid-February, when McCain won a surprisingly large victory over Republican front-runner Texas Gov. George W. Bush, McCain has gotten more press coverage, frustrating Bradley supporters.
Bradley said that trend will shift in the next few weeks.
During his press conference, Bradley also addressed his underdog status in most remaining states.
“I knew I was against entrenched power,” Bradley said. “The last two, three weeks of this campaign is when this will be won.”
He also accused Gore of changing his stances over the years on issues such as abortion, gun control and the tobacco industry.
“People say the vice president is well-known, but it’s pretty easy to know who I am,” Bradley said. “And who I am hasn’t changed.”

Megan Boldt covers government and welcomes comments at [email protected]. She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3212.