Where did Bill Bradley go wrong?

Anonymous asked this question on 3/12/2000:

Where did Bill Bradley go wrong in his campaign?

JesseGordon gave this response on 3/14/2000:

The "conventional wisdom" is that his campaign was too "professorial" -- he stuck too much to theory and not enough to how he would get things done (or at least he appeared that way).

But "go wrong" is not a fully accurate way to characterize his campaign. This was his first serious presidential campaign, and many campaigners "learn the ropes" in their first campaign. Al Gore, for example, ran in 1988, and did very poorly. Ronald Reagan, too, ran in 1976 and failed. They presumably learned from their mistakes the first time out and were better campaigners the next time around.

In my opinion, Bradley failed on two major aspects:

1) He failed to convince voters that he had "the fire in his belly" (as Colin Powell described it) -the strong desire to be president because he thought he could change the country. That's mostly a matter of campaign style -- he could be much more fired up the next time around.

2) His hot issues were campaign finance reform and racial harmony. I don't think either of those got voters fired up at all -- the hot issues are abortion, gun control, tax cuts, and school vouchers, to name a few. The lack of fiery issues and the lack of a fiery candidate combined into a pretty boring campaign.

On the other hand, he succeeded strongly in some of his goals: to keep Gore honest; to bring up his pet issues onto the national agenda; and to move the debate to the left.

And Bradley's campaign was certainly good for Gore -- their debates got Gore on national TV a dozen times; and got Gore over numerous issues that he'll have to face against Bush anyway. So, since another of Bradley's goals is to get a Democrat elected president, he "succeeded" in helping with that goal too.

By no means count Bradley out -- he's young; he's now experienced; and he showed pretty well despite losing. So he'll be back -- presumably less professorial and more fiery next time around!

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