Yale Bulletin and Calendar

February 25, 2000Volume 28, Number 22

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley holds up the Yale sweatshirt given to him by the student organizers of his visit to Toad's Place.

Bradley urges support for his 'dream' for the future

As they decide who they'd like to be the next president of the United States, Democratic hopeful Bill Bradley asked the Yale students and community members who flocked to hear him speak at Toad's Place to consider this question: "What is your dream?"

Hundreds of the students had waited for more than two hours in a long line that snaked alongside Toad's Place to be admitted to the club where Bradley spoke on
Feb. 17. The event, attended by more than 700 people, was organized by Yale Students for Bradley, the Yale Political Union and the Law School.

Bradley, who arrived with an entourage of campaign workers about 20 minutes late for the event, spoke for about 15 minutes in the packed club. Two Yale-student bands, Six Pack Annie and Mocha Jam, entertained the mostly student audience while it anxiously awaited the presidential candidate's arrival.

State Representative Bill Dyson (D-94) and New Haven Alderman Jelani Lawson (D-Ward 2) introduced Bradley on the Toad's Place stage, where hundreds of Yale-student supporters waved homemade or official Bradley placards.

During his speech, Bradley quoted former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

"And so I am going to ask you today: What is your dream for yourself, for your community and for your nation?" he queried his audience.

While acknowledging the "unprecedented prosperity" of the nation, Bradley said that these "good times" can be much better if government could work toward eliminating poverty and gun violence and ensuring quality health care for all American citizens.

"We still have in this country nearly 14 million children who live in poverty," he said. "We have 44 million Americans without any health insurance, 35 million Americans one or two premiums away from losing their health insurance and, therefore, one illness away from financial ruin. We still have 13 children killed in America every day with a gun."

The former New York Knicks basketball player and New Jersey senator took a swipe at his Democratic rival, Al Gore, who Bradley said had criticized him as "negative" and "disloyal" by claiming that America can be better than it is today.

"Let me tell you something," Bradley stated. "Only in Washington is telling the truth called negative. Only in Washington is leaving no one behind called disloyal."

Bradley also listed for his audience some of the reasons he feels he deserves its support.

"I am the only Democrat running that's laid out a program to provide access to quality health care for all Americans and guaranteed coverage for every child in America," he stated. "I am the only Democrat running who has been pro-choice all the time for everyone. I am the only Democrat running who in 18 years did not cast one vote in favor of the NRA [National Rifle Association]."

The Democratic candidate said he was honored to meet large numbers of young, energetic and idealistic supporters. Yet, many young people have lost faith in the political process, he complained.

"When I talk on college campuses, I find that there has never been a greater voluntarism; there's never been a greater number of young people who are willing to go and help their neighbor. But not that many until this campaign have become involved in politics, and I think the reason is because politics to a lot of you -- as you've seen it over the last 10 or 12 years -- has been nothing more than the mechanics of winning -- fundraising, spinning, polling -- when politics should really be service."

Bradley added that he still believes in politics as a "noble" profession and that American voters should be able to choose their president between "two candidates that they esteem," rather than choosing one "they can barely tolerate" to lead their country.

Addressing Yale students who will be on spring break during Connecticut's Democratic primary in early March, Bradley urged them to register to vote in Connecticut, and to make their choice in the primary by absentee ballot.

To his entire audience, he said: "If your dream is my dream ... if you believe that we have a politics that we can reclaim with a combination of your energy and idealism ... if you believe in the long run the future does belong to those who believe in their dreams and the beauty of their dreams, then join me in this race because we will be able to win in three weeks [in the Connecticut primary]. We can surprise a lot of people; we can make it happen in Connecticut. Come with me and we'll change America."

Following his speech, Yale student organizers of Bradley's Toad's Place visit presented him with a Yale sweatshirt, which the candidate held up as audience members cheered. Many of the students lingered in the club to shake hands with Bradley and voice their support of his candidacy.

-- By Susan Gonzalez


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