Bradley hints at independent presidential bid

RUPERT CORNWELL

Washington

Bill Bradley, the widely respected New Jersey Democrat who this week announced his retirement from the Senate, yesterday held out the prospect of an independent run for the presidency. He said he had been in touch with General Colin Powell, who is expected soon to make clear his own White House intentions.

Declaring he still considered himself a Democrat, Mr Bradley confirmed he would not challenge President Bill Clinton for the party's nomination. "But I have not ruled out an independent route," he told a Newark press conference in words that only add to uncertainty over the line-up for the 1996 election.

The 52-year-old former basketball star and Rhodes scholar indicated he planned a series of public meetings, "to see what happens". Although he was not "at this point" thinking of an independent candidacy, he would consider it "if it would help get the country back in the right direction".

According to Mr Bradley, Gen Powell was just one of 120 people he contacted about his decision not to seek a fourth term. "I called him to let him know what I was doing," Mr Bradley said without elaboration, adding that he had unsuccessfully tried to contact Ross Perot, the Texas billionaire who staged the best showing by an independent in 80 years.

Whether made from courtesy or some deeper motive, the mere fact of such calls will increase speculation of a concerted independent candidacy for the White House, to tap into a public discontent which polls show is greater even than in 1992, when the eccentric and egotistical Mr Perot won 19 per cent of the vote. There was even speculation yesterday that Mr Bradley and Messrs Perot and Powell might be planning to join forces in an independent campaign next year.

"The little people and the middle-class are frustrated and feel left out of the system," Mr Bradley declared yesterday, in language that could just as easily have issued from Mr Perot. "There is real fear among millions of people over their future.''

Polls have shown that up to 50 per cent of voters would welcome other choices on the ballot paper next year, especially if the big party candidates are Mr Clinton and Bob Dole, the Senate Majority leader and current Republican front-runner. "I can do more good by being outside the system than inside it," Mr Bradley insisted.

Despite his relative youth, generally admiring press coverage and his acknowledged expertise on issues ranging from Russia to race relations, Mr Bradley would have serious handicaps if he did make a White House run, whether next year or - as many believe more likely - in 2000. He is one of the least electrifying speakers in US politics, while his popularity in New Jersey at least has been ebbing to the point where he might have lost his seat had he run in 1996.

His departure, however, ensures it will be tougher than ever for the Democrats to regain control of the Senate, where the Republicans have a 54-46 majority.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Day In a Page

Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride