Remarks of Bill Bradley
On His Withdrawal from the Presidential Race
West Orange, NJ
March 9, 2000
I want to begin by expressing my gratitude to thousands of delegates and supporters and friends and staff and others who have truly made this campaign a joyous journey. Especially I want to thank the elected officials who had the courage to follow their ideals and support me in this race and all the young people who infused the campaign with their energy and idealism. All those that I've mentioned have worked hard, took personal and political risks, and given me their trust. That is one of the great gifts of politics. I want to salute all of them for they have been the backbone of this campaign and I will never forget them.
And I especially want to express my appreciation to Ernestine, and I'm glad the country had the chance to get to know her passion and her enthusiasm and her conviction as I've known it throughout our marriage. I want to salute her and I know that she's been a part of this journey in a very deep way, so we're both here today to call it an end.
Following the results on Tuesday night, I have decided to withdraw from the Democratic race for President. And while I am bowing out, I am not releasing the delegates that are on my side. They've been loyal supporters and deserve to have their voices heard.
The Vice President and I had a stiff competition, and he won. I congratulate him. He will be the nominee of the Democratic Party, and I support him in his bid to win the White House. This morning I called him and told him all of that.
It is the tradition of the Democratic Party to fight hard during primaries and then unify and close ranks behind the nominee as soon as the people have spoken. And now it is time for unity.
Democrats know that the offerings of the likely Republican nominee and his party are the opposite of where our country should be headed.
This country needs Democratic leadership, and I will work to ensure a Democratic White House and Congress.
I will also continue to work for a new politics, and for the values I laid out in the campaign. What do I mean by creating a new politics in America? I mean a politics that is not polluted by money; a politics in which leaders speak from their core convictions and not from polls or focus groups; a politics that is about lifting people up not tearing your opponent down; a politics that reflects the best of what is in us as Americans and not the worst; a politics that inspires us all to try to live up to our potential as citizens and human beings.
I'm also talking about a politics that listens more closely to the voices that are not usually heard, a politics that has a special responsibility to leave no one behind. A president is president of all the people, wealthy as well as poor. But a president must listen more closely because the voices of those who have been less fortunate are not as loud and insistent as those who have been more fortunate.
Jefferson once divided politicians into two camps: Those who secretly fear and distrust the people, and think they know better, and those who consider the people the wisest guide of the public interest. That is what the new politics is all about, the oldest instinct in our democracy: Trusting the people.
The values I cherish and laid out in this campaign are embodied in issues such as access to health care for all Americans, elimination of child poverty, bold steps to get guns off our streets, genuine racial unity, education that works for everyone, and fundamental campaign finance reform. These are not and never have been political slogans for me. They are and always have been my convictions, convictions I do not change because an election is won or lost.
What makes this a special moment in America is that we can afford to do all these things now especially since we're living at a time of unprecedented prosperity. And if we did these things we would all be stronger.
As I said the other night, if we don't seize this moment, future generations will judge us harshly and say, "They knew what was wrong, they had the means to make it better and they did not act!"
Abraham Lincoln once wrote that "the cause of liberty must not be surrendered at the end of one or even one hundred defeats." We have been defeated, but the cause for which I ran has not been, the cause of trying to create a new politics in this country, the cause of trying to fulfill our special promise as a nation. That cannot be defeated by one or a hundred defeats.
I want to leave this race the same way I got in. I remember that day at a community development center in Newark, New Jersey, New Community, and the same way I kicked it off in the Fall in my hometown in Crystal City, Missouri. And that is with a minimum of politics as usual and a maximum of respect for the American people and their dreams. I believe these dreams can be the foundation of a new politics that can truly make our country soar.
Thank you very much.
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