Why Did Bill Bradley Lose?
Jude Wanniski
March 6, 2000


To: Brit Hume
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: John McCain???

Well, yes, I can see how you could say on FoxNewsSunday that "John McCain beat Bill Bradley." Both were "outsiders" running against "insiders," and in the New Hampshire primary, which Bradley might have won and should have won if he had been a better candidate, McCain won by drawing independents and Democrats across the line into the GOP primary which might otherwise have gone to Dollar Bill. That might have been the straw that broke the camel's back, Brit, but Bradley should have been drawing Republicans across the line into the Democratic primary to vote for him. He could easily have done that by presenting an economic growth plan that would include Bradley's own patented tax reform ideas... but Bradley muffed it badly.

I'd say the first major error he made was in Iowa, when he came out for ethanol subsidies when every anchorman had quotes of him saying it was a financial scandal. How could he shift gears? He said it was only a financial scandal when looked at from the perspective of a NJ Senator, where the taxpayers have to pay for the subsidy and don't grow any corn. I'd seen Bradley shift gears before, but not like this. It was McCain's consistency in opposing ethanol and staying out of the Iowa GOP picnic that helped propel him forward. But Bradley could have survived that, I think. His worst mistake came later.

Do you remember how, early in the race, when it seemed Gore looked stone deaf and Bradley seemed to be taking wing, the Veep ACCUSED Bradley of voting for the REAGAN TAX CUTS. It was one of a kind of the phony charges that all the candidates have been slinging around in both parties, but Bradley chose to fight back by DENYING he had voted for the dreaded Reagan tax cuts. That was absolutely the dumbest thing he did in the whole campaign. I submit that if Bradley had said he was part of the successful Reagan tax cuts, or that he led the campaign for tax reform, or that he made a mistake in voting against the Reagan tax cuts, or that he had no idea WHAT Gore was talking about -- but that he certainly thought there could be another round of BRADLEY-TYPE tax SIMPLIFICATION and reform -- the race would have been over. And I believe that, Brit. The only opening Bradley had in this contest was to present himself as the Growth Candidate. The dumbest thing Gore did was to accuse Bradley of voting for the Reagan tax cuts, but it turned out to be the smartest thing he did, because Bradley was even dumber. He took the bait -- hook, line and sinker.

From then on, Bradley played in his short pants, trying to persuade the electorate that he would provide $12 more in health care than Gore and maybe $17.50 more in education. Or whatever Democratic Angels he was dancing around on the head of a pin.

I mean no disrespect to you, Brit. I'm one of your biggest fans out here in political tv land. But can't you imagine how different it would have been had Bradley chosen to contest on his own turf, instead of fighting on Gore's? He was, as they say in Knickland, head-faked to hell and beyond.