Gore, Bradley Open On Drug Use

Gore, Bradley Open On Drug Use
Posted by FoM on December 17, 1999 at 19:46:36 PT
By Sandra Sobieraj, Associated Press Writer
Democratic presidential rivals Al Gore and Bill Bradley agreed in campaign debate Friday night that long-ago use of marijuana should not disqualify anyone from serving in the White House, and said every candidate must decide how much scrutiny of their past to permit.
``I've admitted that I have smoked marijuana, as the vice president has,'' Bradley said, sitting a few feet away from the vice president on a stage at Daniel Webster College.Gore said he had ``been open about it,'' and said he would let the Republican front-runner, Texas Gov. George Bush, ``decide for himself how to respond.''Bush has said he hasn't used illegal drugs in the past 25 years, but has declined to address possible earlier use.The issue arose a few moments after the start of the second debate of the Democratic presidential campaign -- and the first of two this weekend.Gore remains the front-runner nationally in the race, as judged in the polls. But statewide surveys show Bradley even or slightly ahead in New Hampshire, where the first primary ballots will be cast on Feb. 1, and he is hoping to ambush the vice president and use that as a springboard to later triumphs.The 90-minute event was arranged by the ABC program Nightline, and the host of the program, Ted Koppel, served as moderator.He set only one ground rule as the rivals settled onto their swivel stools: remain seated.There was little to bring them out of their seats in the first few exchanges, as Gore said he and Bradley both had been blessed with wonderful wives.A question on gun control produced some restrained jabbing.``I'm the only candidate in this race who has called for mandatory licensing and registration of all handguns in this country,'' said Bradley, who added he also wants to move gun dealers out of residential neighborhoods.Gore stressed that he, too, favors gun control.Their encounter was the first since October 27, and since then, the campaign between the two Democrats -- who once served together in the Senate -- has grown increasingly heated.In that October debate, Bradley left Gore's charges against his health plan and his commitment to Medicare largely unanswered.He eventually watched his slight leads in New Hampshire and New York polls evaporate. And on the campaign trail, he let himself get drawn into hypothetical questions giving Gore fodder -- however shaky -- for claims that Bradley wanted to raise taxes and cut Social Security. Bradley's New Hampshire campaign had to apologize for a pamphlet that accused Gore of ``uncontrollable lying.''On Friday, borrowing a page from Gore's campaign book, Bradley's staff released a study by three economists and health policy analysts who are advising the former New Jersey senator.Harvard University's David M. Cutler, Stanford University's Alan M. Garber and Neal Masia of ChannelPoint Inc. said their analysis concluded Bradley's $65-billion health care plan, Gore's favorite target, would expand insurance coverage to 30 million Americans. The vice president's more limited proposal would reach just 7 million people currently uninsured, the trio said.Gore had chosen the October debate to hit Bradley with a study by a similarly friendly outside expert, former Clinton-Gore administration official Kenneth Thorpe, who said Bradley's health plan would really cost around $1 trillion.Gore set an in-your-face tone for debate night by bringing Sen. Frank Lautenberg, from Bradley's own New Jersey, to New Hampshire to re-announce his year-old endorsement of the vice president. Bradley countered with an endorsement by Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who accompanied Bradley's wife, Ernestine, to the debate.``I served with Senator Bradley in the Senate,'' Lautenberg said in a statement handed out by the Gore campaign, ``but I believe Al Gore has the leadership ability, the practical experience and the will to fight for what's right.''It was a line that Bradley was prepared to try to undercut -- on issues such as campaign finance reform, universal health insurance, offshore oil drilling and ``racial profiling'' by police -- with research on what Gore has said he supports versus what he has accomplished in the White House.Gore aides made clear that the vice president was ready with ammunition, too. They counted down to the day how much time had passed after Bradley entered the Senate before he introduced his own campaign finance reform legislation.AP-NY-12-17-99 2010ESTCopyright  Associated Press.Related Articles:Gore Briefly Supports Access to Med. Marijuana - 12/17/99 House Papers Over Gap With Gore On Marijuana-12/13/99 President Smokes Admin. On Issue of MMJ - 12/15/99 Supports 'Flexibility' on Medical Marijuana Is Open To Medical Marijuana - 12/14/99 
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