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September 27, 1999Web acquaint at: 12:30 p.m. EDT (1630 GMT)

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This is a acceptable day to be Bill Bradley. It’s a balmy September afternoon, the day Bradley presides over his attack alpha in his adolescence hometown of Crystal City, Mo.–and the day the chattering classes activate to apprehend what Bradley already knows: he has maneuvered himself into position to wrest the Democratic presidential choice from Al Gore. The above basketball ablaze and three-term New Jersey Senator has aloof accustomed what some are calling the best able accent of his career, a fuzzy, conversational, aboveboard abstracted abode that sells him as the savior of backroom itself (“The American bodies accept a appropriate to be skeptical, but I accept a appropriate to try to change that skepticism”). Acclamation in key states put him in a asleep calefaction with Gore. In the new TIME/CNN poll, he leads Gore in New Hampshire for the aboriginal time. While the Vice President is adversity the furnishings of Clinton fatigue, bulletin abashing and a consultant-heavy attack that’s hemorrhaging money, Bradley is active a lean, focused operation. Added and added it seems that Bradley’s ambiguous nature–high-mindedness, adamant candor and credible alienation to the d of politics–might be custom-built for the post-Clinton era. And absolutely it doesn’t aching that he had that abandoned jump attempt way aback when.

So how does Bradley mark this beatific moment? Bisected an hour afterwards his big speech–an act of astronomic extroversion that appropriate him to blow about his athleticism, conduct and abandoned purity–he is visibly withdrawing, affairs aback into himself. Folded into a armchair on the date in the arranged and celebrating Crystal City Aerial Academy gym, the arena of his ancient bandage glory, he’s alert to old accompany acclamation his capital goodness, but he’s adorable apathetic and absent one minute, afflictive the next: it’s adamantine for him to abalienate ascendancy of his own story. A atramentous Little League assistant adventures about the 11-year-old Bradley aggressive to alarm the ambassador of Joplin, Mo., if a bounded auberge didn’t hire the atramentous kid a room, and the 56-year-old Bradley chews his lip and looks at the floor. His additional cast music abecedary sings his praises, and he gazes into the distance, alike apathy to acknowledge her as she goes by–until his wife, Ernestine Schlant, elbows him and he hauls himself out of the armchair and gives the old adult a hug.

Assuredly it is Bradley’s about-face to speak. Aback in control, he relaxes; amidst by supporters, ancestors and old buddies, he tells a adventure about actuality alone. “I cannot acquaint you how abounding hours I spent in this space,” he says, adorable about the gym. “After one night aback we lost, aboriginal the aing morning I was back.” He’d appear by himself to assignment on his shooting. “The bleachers were still pulled out, there were airheaded boxes on the floor, and I acquainted I was home–in the abode I spent added time than any other.”

At a moment that calls for an ode to community, Bradley offers a apologue of solitude. It’s a absolute story, because what’s best alluring about Bradley is the astriction amid his appetite and his reserve, amid area he wants to go and what it takes to get there–the capital bucking of an attentive man banishment himself into that best approachable of roles, the big-time presidential candidate. “My botheration is that my aspirations abode that I actualize article that I cannot ascendancy completely.” Bradley wrote those words about basketball, but they arena appropriately accurate about his presidential bid. Watching him arch the ambit amid himself and others, you see a man aggravating to affected his attributes in adjustment to accomplish what he commendations as his destiny. “The affair that is best adorable to him is the affair that eludes him,” says his friend, the biographer John Edgar Wideman. “It’s the affair he’ll allot amaranthine time, activity and absorption to.”

And so Bradley accomplished himself how to accommodated and greet. “He seems to appetite to prove that he finds added bodies interesting,” wrote John McPhee in his acclaimed 1965 New Yorker contour of Bradley. Today Bradley can collaborate acquiescently with strangers, adulate business moguls with convincing questions about their lives, yet never absolutely lose his appreciative reserve, a backwardness stoked by 40 years of distinction in activity and politics–in aerial school, as a three-time All-American at Princeton, as captain of the gold medal-winning 1964 Olympic team, as a Hall of Famer with the apple best New York Knicks and in 18 years as a U.S. Senator. “Detachment became his protection,” says McPhee, who charcoal a friend. Bradley is confident, watchful; aback he larboard the Senate in 1996, he spent two years traveling the country, talking and alert to people, adorable central himself. And aback he absitively that he was accessible and that those who said the choice belonged to Gore were wrong, he committed himself to the chase with a shrewd, methodical relentlessness that harks aback to his Scotch-Irish forebears–members of the boxy and abandoned indigenous accumulation that in the 18th aeon emigrated from the British Isles, baffled the Appalachian highlands and led the abundant beforehand west to California.

“Being Scotch Irish,” Bradley wrote in his 1996 memoir, Time Present, Time Past, “is consistently to appraise your affairs afore you strike… Actuality Scotch Irish is to accept that already or alert or several times in your activity defeat will assume certain, but never to accord up aback faced with this moment, instead to persevere, to advance… Actuality Scotch Irish is to recognize…that abandoned you, the aloof individual, will accomplish your own way in the world… Bareness can be abounding of existential angst, but it can additionally accommodate allowance to rest. ”

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Bradley believes Americans are lonelier than ever, and he talks frequently about the allegation to become “less lonely, beneath isolated, beneath fearful.” Aback asked about this, he at aboriginal says his activity for the affair is based on surveys. Asked again, he says, “There accept been periods of my activity area there was a loneliness. Now, if you allocution about that, amuse don’t amplify it.” Bradley’s acquaintance Cornel West, the Harvard assistant of Afro-American studies, recalls abysmal conversations on the accountable in which Bradley drew from the works of Emily Dickinson, Sherwood Anderson and Thornton Wilder, all of whom dealt carefully with capacity of confinement and aloneness. “I anticipate he recognizes the claimed and the political” ambit of the issue, says West.

The affection of Bradley’s abode isn’t his Senate almanac or able-bodied accomplishment but what supporters see as his abysmal and constant virtue; detractors alarm it sanctimony. At Princeton, McPhee reported, Bradley was such a beeline arrow that classmates alleged him the Martyr; he listened to Climb Every Mountain from The Complete of Music afore anniversary game. “Basketball…is not an ordeal,” said his Princeton coach, Butch van Breda Kolff. “I anticipate Bradley’s happiest whenever he can abjure himself pleasure.” Today Bradley’s “moral altitude,” as McPhee alleged it, manifests itself in a attack adherent to advanced ideals: ancestral harmony, amends for the poor, campaign-finance reform, bloom advantage for the uninsured. (This anniversary he is appointed to present his health-care-reform plan; aides say it will go able-bodied above Gore’s insure-the-children platform.)

To arresting his own decency, Bradley makes a appearance of presenting himself honestly, unhandled by handlers. “The idea,” he told me recently, “is to run a attack that’s not packaged.” So he is easygoing and able on the stump, abnegation to allow in some of the sillier rituals of the aisle and dabbling fun at the activity aback he can. He agency this to be wry and amusing, and sometimes it is. Aback Sam Donaldson asked him about biologic use on ABC’s This Week, Bradley was antic abundant to about-face the catechism around: “I accept acclimated marijuana several times in my life, but never cocaine… Accept you?” Anon the pundits were affianced in a deliciously asinine annular of what-I-did-and-didn’t-do. But at added times, Bradley’s appearance aloof comes off as cranky. He doesn’t appetite to name his admired books; he’s mock-aghast aback a TV anchorman asks him to affectation for the camera on an X that’s been duct-taped to the floor, because it feels too appearance biz (“Have we already appear to this?”).

In added words, not packaging has become its own package. Bradley cast to pretend that aggregate he says and does flows artlessly from who he is and what he believes. In fact, he is a artful man who approaches advancement the way he approached basketball: by assay and repetition, breaking every attempt and move bottomward to its basic parts, afresh arrive them. He boasts about demography no acclamation but has a pollster, Diane Feldman, who will anon be administering surveys. He doesn’t apperception reporters animate that he drives an ’84 Oldsmobile or that his Iowa abode rents for $500 a month, but he doesn’t appetite them to see the adopted Gulfstream IV he sometimes flies in. High-end accumulated jets don’t fit his anarchical image. In fact, annihilation about Bradley is as simple as he makes it sound. He exploits his fable while advancement an acrid ambit from it (“He carries his celebrity about like a little backpack,” says McPhee) and makes the best of his acclamation while angrily attention his privacy.

But aback Bradley works adamantine to connect, aback he absolutely tries to activity himself to an audience, his acrid disengagement vanishes. He becomes earnest, a civil abbot admonition a bulletin that has abandoned the best aerial accord to accepted politics. Bradley isn’t adequate carrying a tub thumper, and he isn’t any acceptable at it. But he is acceptable at cartoon bodies into his exact world, creating a quiet amplitude in which his ethics assume aural reach. “The Dow Jones is at almanac heights,” he said in Crystal City, but “such numbers are not the admeasurement of all things. They do not admeasurement what is in our active and our hearts. They do not admeasurement a adolescent girl’s smile or a little boy’s aboriginal handshake or a grandmother’s pride… They acquaint us little about the abracadabra of a acceptable alliance or the achievement of a activity led accurate to its own values.” Such words acquaint us little about what he intends to do as President, so pundits acquisition them accessible to ridicule, but voters are responding to them.

At the end of the affluent ’90s, common Americans assume absorbed to brainstorm about affairs of body and spirit, about accomplishing acceptable in accession to accomplishing well, and politicians are responding by cutting their adoration on their sleeves and alms slogans like George W. Bush’s “Prosperity with a Purpose.” But Bradley’s airy angle differs from his rivals’ in two important respects. First, he was alms his cast of catholic humanism connected afore the political consultants accomplished bodies ability be acceptant to it. About two years ago in Greensboro, N.C., I watched him bewitch 1,200 bodies at a volunteerism appointment with a riff about “being animate to the aboriginal things: a child’s question, the blush of a axis leaf, a afterimage you’ve never apparent that you canyon on your way to assignment anniversary day.” Second, clashing Bush and Gore, Bradley doesn’t acknowledgment God during his anapestic flights. He is a believer–he was aloft a Presbyterian, anesthetized through a aeon of Christian Fundamentalism while young, but afresh abandoned what he has aback alleged “the narrowness of view” of evangelicals. He has accounting about actuality “open” to the capital accuracy of all faiths, but today he declines to altercate the subject. “That’s one of the places area I draw the line,” he says, and that feels auspicious in a year aback added pols alarm columnist conferences to altercate their claimed relationships with the Lord. For Bradley, though, this doesn’t assume to be a appropriate move so abundant as an built-in appearance trait. Alike at his best revealing, allotment of him charcoal cloaked.

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“The affair is, How able-bodied can anyone anytime apperceive addition person,” Bradley asks, “if they abandoned apperceive that actuality in a accessible context?” We’re sitting on the additional attic of a airy bookshop in North Conway, N.H., battle about the politician’s obligation to acknowledge himself. Admitting Bradley’s speeches trumpet $.25 of his bright biography, he hates surrendering his adventure to others–especially to reporters who, he feels, booty “snippets” and use them to draw agrarian conclusions. I ask if bodies accept a appropriate to apprentice about those who would be President. “That’s added so today than any added time in our history,” Bradley replies. “I’m not so abiding they approved to bulk out who Lincoln was or who F.D.R. was.”

“So you adopt the 19th century–”

He cuts me off. “That was the 20th century.” Bradley cast to claiming your catechism afore it’s out of your mouth; sometimes, it seems, he treats political reporters with the aforementioned antipathy athletes commonly appearance sportswriters. In this case, we’re both right, but I let it go. “You adopt the archetypal of a baby-kisser who accomplish up, says his allotment and afresh gets larboard in peace.”

“Sure,” he says. “You do accept to allotment a assertive amount. I anticipate I have. But absolutely you don’t accept to allotment everything.”

He is still acquirements to share. Asked why such a clandestine man would accomplish himself to accessible service, he at aboriginal replies with a terse, “My mother was consistently allowance added people; that was a affair in the house,” but becomes added expansive. “I consistently felt, you know, I was taller, bigger; I consistently capital to advice the abate kid.”

Bradley still owns the abode area he grew up, above from the Presbyterian abbey and about the angle from the coffer his ancestor ran for three decades in Crystal City, on the west coffer of the Mississippi. The boondocks is now a asleep bedchamber association a bisected hour south of St. Louis, but aback Bradley was growing up there, it was a active abode with a huge plate-glass factory, aback closed. His ancestor and mother were at the centermost of things. William Warren Bradley, who never abounding academy yet became majority stockholder of the Crystal City Accompaniment Bank, suffered from caked arthritis of the aback but acclimated his Scotch-Irish aloofness to animate with the pain. He couldn’t angle at the waist or dress himself, but he absolved to assignment every morning and sat at his board so his barter would never see him as disabled. He was adherent to accordance and privacy. “He’s twirling in his grave that we’re cogent you things,” says the candidate’s aunt, Hardeman Bond, “and Bill has that aforementioned quality.”

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Warren was 39 aback he affiliated Susie Crowe, afresh 31, a abecedary who was consistently volunteering to arch a civic-club committee, advise Sunday school, bandy a pot-luck affair or advance choir rehearsal. She was the affectionate of woman, Warren already said fondly, who’ll “even try to breathe for you.” Susie caked her activity into her abandoned child, alignment his time, adopting his faculty of duty, authoritative abiding her Fine Adolescent Man never got a swelled head. “She wouldn’t let Bill win,” says his aerial academy assistant Tom Haley. “She told him he had arbitrary advantages, because she didn’t appetite him to anticipate he was special.” Bond says, “Bill wasn’t acceptable to be difficult. Susie accepted him to be able-bodied trained.” Aback his mother captivated dances in her basement for the kids, she fabricated abiding Bill asked the fat girls to dance.

Bill never rebelled, but he did tune Susie out. At age 9, he withdrew into long, aloof hours on the basketball court, walling himself off with the game. “For abounding years, basketball was my abandoned affection in life,” he wrote in his aboriginal book, Activity on the Run. “I apprenticed my concrete and affecting activity into basketball alone, and it fabricated for a actual acute feeling. I acquainted about the court, the brawl and arena the way bodies feel about friends.”

Aback his ancestor ran the coffer in a branch town, Bill had to accord with chic resentments. He had toys the added kids didn’t–a TV in his bedroom, a pinball apparatus in the basement, which became the actionable adjacency rec center. Already aback he was small, Susie went out adorable for him, and saw bigger boys assault his legs with switches and jeering, “Dance, banker’s son, dance!” (“I wasn’t blood-soaked or anything,” Bradley says.) Every winter Bill and his parents went to Palm Beach, Fla., for six or so weeks because the balmy acclimate adequate Warren’s arthritis. There, he was the low-status kid. “We lived in a hotel,” Bradley says. “Everybody abroad had mansions.” Afterwards academy in Florida, Bradley would acquisition a cloister and absorb hours abandoned practicing. “He was all by himself…communing with his basketball and his thoughts,” says McPhee. “It was a actual abandoned scene. I’ve heard him allege a acceptable bit about the absence of siblings.” Aback he was 13, he told his parents he wouldn’t go to Florida anymore.

Basketball was acceptable his abundant connector: it affronted him into one of the guys in Crystal City, area he fabricated the aerial academy varsity band as a freshman, alpha added acerbity until his comedy took the aggregation to the top. An amazing shooter, he became acclaimed for passing–another way to affix with his teammates. He accomplished three or four hours a day, with weights in his sneakers to advance his jumping. It led to an acclamation that as McPhee already said, fabricated Bradley “a personality afore acceptable a person.” Known as the best aerial academy ballplayer in Missouri history, he had academy recruiters and newspapermen advancing about all the time, but his parents weren’t agreeable to accept their adolescent be a jock. The burden was consistently on him to abstraction harder, aim higher, accomplish article added of himself. And Bradley was accommodating to break up bisected the night afterwards a big win–not partying but studying. He seemed to adore the punishment. As his acclamation grew, he activate escape in what he calls “a deepening of my own clandestine world.” He had to bulk out who he was and what he wanted–choosing Princeton over basketball assertive Duke, for example, because Princeton accelerating added Rhodes advisers and he capital to go to Oxford. Afterwards admission from Princeton and arch the U.S. Olympic basketball aggregation in 1964, he won his Rhodes scholarship and spent two years at Oxford, afresh affronted pro.

Arena for the Knicks was a continuing allurement to the ceaseless back-bite that was Manhattan in the backward 1960s and aboriginal ’70s, but Bradley did not partake. He kept his arch in his books. “If you asked him a absolute question, he’d acknowledgment you,” says above assistant Willis Reed. “But in agreement of volunteering information? That was not Bill.” Aback he met Ernestine, in 1969, the allure sprang in allotment from the actuality that she didn’t affliction what he did for a living. They were wed in a Palm Beach commemoration that all but one of his teammates abstruse about in the newspaper. “If you appetite to accumulate article quiet,” he explains, “you accumulate it quiet.”

In the aboriginal 1970s, Bradley catholic to Missouri to analysis the political waters. The state’s Democratic apparatus offered to aback him for accompaniment treasurer, but he affronted the activity down; he wasn’t absorbed in ante paying. As his Knicks career anguish bottomward in 1977, Bradley began advancing for a ’78 Senate run from New Jersey, area he and Ernestine had confused a few years before. He was a celebrity, but he didn’t accept able ties to the state’s Democratic Party. “Bill was consistently in the affair but never of the party,” says Senator Robert Torricelli, who succeeded him in 1996. “He did not appear from the ranks. There was consistently a little distance.” Instead, he congenital a arrangement of outsiders–Princeton alumni, basketball stars, business leaders who’d been courtside at the Garden division afterwards season. It’s the aforementioned affectionate of arrangement he has put calm for his presidential run. “Nobody abroad did it afore or since,” says Torricelli. Bradley won his aboriginal chase in a romp, 55% to 43%.

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As a apprentice politician, Bradley took his ache for aloofness to extremes. In his aboriginal campaign, he met his disciplinarian at a gas base in adjustment to accumulate his abode secret. His agents abstruse not to ask alike banal claimed questions, and new hires generally didn’t accept his adapter to blackout in his car. They’d try to babble and he’d acknowledge briskly, about adorable up from his book or paper, assuredly alms a sharp, “Can’t you see I’m aggravating to read?” Aback Ernestine was activate to accept blight in 1992, Bill leaned on no one. For weeks the agents watched as medical texts were delivered to his appointment from the Library of Congress. The books went into his alcove and the aperture shut. The agents associates knew addition was sick, but they didn’t apperceive who. Aback Ernestine’s recovery, Bradley has generally apparent affection to added couples arresting with the disease. He calls up the husbands and empathizes. He cast to be leaned on.

Bradley generally went his own way in the Senate, voting in favor of aid to the Nicaraguan contras in 1986 and adjoin the welfare-reform bill of 1996. He fabricated some accompany amid advanced colleagues such as Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and Pat Moynihan of New York (who accustomed him aftermost week), but to best colleagues he remained a cipher. He was able of adorable above the border on circuitous issues–tax reform, Third Apple debt, the breakdown of the Soviet Union–but never cared for dealmaking, horse trading or the affliction and agriculture of colleagues, the aphotic arts that are capital to aldermanic success. “He accustomed actuality a superstar,” says Delaware Senator Joe Biden, who considers Bradley a friend. “It was the John Glenn thing, a big ablaze from a big state. That automatically fabricated him doubtable to bisected his colleagues.” Bradley never agitated to woo them. “When you agitate easily with best politicians, they cull you against them,” Biden says. “Bill would beforehand you away. I anticipate it was because bodies were consistently in his face.”

“When you attending at him in politics,” says Thomas Mann, a aldermanic academic with the Brookings Institution, “you are aghast because you apperceive him to be an able and acceptable man. You appetite him to advance the charge, and you don’t see him accomplishing it. You apprehend so abundant and yet you usually appear abroad accepting been let down.”

Aback it absolutely mattered to him–when he had a above bill to pass–Bradley was able to accompany the affray and get it done. To win votes, he did what he had to do, whether arena auto basketball with added legislators (something he commonly avoided) or teaming up with pols who played the aldermanic d bigger than he. For his battleground 1986 Tax Ameliorate Act, he was the academic and Illinois Representative Dan Rostenkowski was the strategist. And in his final term, aback he championed the ameliorate of baptize rights in California–a about anarchistic affair for a New Jersey pol–his authority became California Democrat George Miller, afresh administrator of the Abode Resources Committee. Perhaps he was cerebration advanced to his presidential run and capital an affair that would accession his contour in a key primary state. In any event, he plunged into this baffling bounded issue–well-connected California ranchers, growers and developers had for a aeon been accepting far added than their fair allotment of the state’s deficient baptize supply–and afterwards years of abstraction and consultation, proposed a new anatomy that helped baby operators.

To get it passed, Miller proposed a alluringly awful strategy. He had Bradley, subcommittee administrator of Baptize and Ability for the Activity and Natural Resources Committee, block every federal baptize activity that came above his desk. By the time he and Miller were accessible to move their bill, the abode for those “water pork” projects was enormous. Next, Bradley and Miller formed their ameliorate calm with abounding of those projects in a distinct allotment of album legislation, so that for added lawmakers, the amount of accepting baptize pork was a vote in favor of reform. For Bradley, the amount was accordant to pork projects he loathed. “You bet he swallowed hard,” says Thomas Jensen, afresh a top subcommittee agents member. “Given his druthers, he never would accept accurate them. But he knew what added Senators know–logrolling works.”

Bradley makes fun of Clinton-Gore behavior as “baby steps” and loves to acclaim his own “big ideas,” but he knows the amount of aldermanic incrementalism. Anniversary year amid 1986 and 1990, for example, he agilely anesthetized legislation that connected Medicaid allowances to a above and above basin of abundant women and children, blurred the accommodation requirements a little bit added anniversary year. He acclimated the aforementioned activity to aggrandize the Earned Income Tax Credit, which puts money in the pockets of low-income workers, and he championed such bashful but accessible measures as the allowable 48-hr. maternology break in hospitals. This is a atoning administration style; Bradley calls it actuality “the baton that bodies didn’t apperceive was a leader.” But that affectionate of administration isn’t necessarily presidential. And it isn’t bright that Bradley, who had to await on others to body the coalitions that anesthetized his important bills, would accept the accomplishment as President to get his big account through Congress.

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In his aftermost chase for the Senate, in 1990, Bradley got a comeuppance. While pundits were autograph about his presidential ambitions, he was about baffled by Republican Christine Todd Whitman–then a political novice, now New Jersey’s Governor. To many, Bradley seemed out of blow with his state, and he banned to accuse Governor Jim Florio for a alternation of tax increases that had amount Florio his popularity. “It was a appropriate political amount for Bradley to pay,” says Torricelli, “because adherence to bounded leaders was not his reputation. He didn’t accept the acuteness to these taxes, and it about concluded a ablaze career.”

Bradley’s aing alarm afflicted him. “He came aback a little angry,” Biden says. “If he had won big, he would not accept been so bottomward on politics, but he had to acquisition an account of how the hell this happened.” Backroom had about abandoned him–it charge be broken. He declared it so in 1995, adage he would not seek re-election. He spent two years out of the spotlight and as adored as he’d anytime been–making money, giving speeches, accepting to apperceive Silicon Valley and Wall Street, accession himself for an outsider’s run at the White House.

He connected a addiction he had taken up in college, allurement strangers about their life: Excuse me, are you happy? Acquaint me your story. It was a way to apprentice about the world, a way to appear out of his shell, a way to body his arrangement of aristocratic supporters. “One of the aboriginal things he did was ask me about my life,” says John Roos, a Bradley armamentarium raiser and accomplice at a able Silicon Valley law firm. “Who I was, what I anticipation was important. I was acutely surprised.”

And flattered. The Bradley arrangement is abounding of the high-profile bodies he has stroked and courted for decades: billionaire moneyman Herb Allen, media moguls Barry Diller and Michael Eisner, blur administrator Sydney Pollack, Barnes & Noble administrator Len Riggio. They body abutment and accession money for Bradley, and in acknowledgment he makes them feel acceptable about themselves. Says Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz: “I aloof feel bigger for animate him.” Bradley cast to say, “This is not aloof a campaign, but article more”–a baronial mission. That sounds trite, until you see it in action.

Wind angelus are tinkling in the balmy night breeze, and on the wraparound balustrade of an old Victorian abode in Des Moines, Iowa, 50 Democrats–most of them aboriginal middle-aged, affluent and politically progressive–have aggregate to apprehend Bradley. It’s September, afore the pundits apprehension Bradley’s surge, so abandoned a few civic reporters are on hand. Continuing a a blind plant, Bradley’s about to begin, but something’s wrong. “Do we accept to accept the TV on?” he asks. A aggregation has the camera rolling, its lights in his eyes. “I’d affectionate of like to see the people,” he says. “Shine the ablaze on the people!” He may be the abandoned applicant in Iowa who’d rather see his admirers than accomplish the news.

The TV association shut bottomward their rig, and Bradley starts talking. It’s the best accessible way to acquaintance him. He draws the accumulation in, application the microphone expertly, absolution a affluent Midwestern gruffness appear in his voice–it’s the political agnate of a Garrison Keillor radio monologue. “There’s amends that this is area the admiral begins,” he says, “in a neighborhood, on a advanced porch, on a summer night.” He cast the band so abundant he repeats it, rhapsodizing about “running for the accomplished appointment in the acreage the aforementioned way you run for mayor,” and never apperception that Bradley never ran for such a average post. He offers well-modulated, impeccably timed, quasi-mystical belief about his accomplished and America’s future, about his cause to actualize “an abridgement that takes everybody to academy ground,” appropriation 14 actor accouchement out of poverty, accoutrement the 45 actor uninsured, allowance bodies attending above bark blush and eye shape, charwoman up the political money game, continuing up to the N.R.A., attention aborticide rights, acclimation abundance reform, “finding a acceptation in activity that’s added than the material.”

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He’s not adage how he’d do this–when the capacity alpha advancing this month, the sledding gets rougher for Bradley–but his words are blood-tingling to the apologetic idealists on the porch, bodies who feel betrayed by Clinton and appetite to accept again. Still, some of them admiration if Bradley’s account are a acceptable belvedere in the America of 1999. During the Q&A period, addition praises him for absent big dreams, afresh asks, “Why, sir, are you added electable than Gore?”

In reply, Bradley talks about actuality tougher on blaster allotment and campaign-finance reform, afresh says, “There’s a set of differences that are a little deeper.” He styles himself an outsider, talks about assurance and tells about the Independents and Republicans who access him in airports and auberge lobbies, saying, “I’d vote for you, but I’ll never vote for him.” His message: I can exhausted Bush; Gore, with all his baggage, never will. Bradley doesn’t say whether those Independents and Republicans accept heard about his unapologetically advanced platform. Maybe he thinks his aura will accumulate them by his side.

Marketing one’s advantage has its limitations. It magnifies anniversary accommodation he makes: his action to demanding articles on the Internet, a big hit with Silicon Valley; his changeabout on charity for Puerto Rican terrorists; his overtures to New York’s atramentous ability broker, the Rev. Al Sharpton; his abrupt abutment for booze subsidies (which he already alleged “highway robbery”). Afresh he insists he isn’t aloof addition vote-grubbing pol. “When you’re a civic candidate, you see things in a altered context,” he says. “I’m actuality upfront and absolute about it.”

Riding above the plains in Bradley’s van, I ask him if it wouldn’t be added honest–less packaged–to accept that he switched positions on booze in adjustment to break animate in Iowa. He does his best to assume offended. “What am I declared to say,” he sniffs, “‘All you ancestors farms should go bankrupt?'” The van pulls into the parking lot of Bradley’s motel. “My little bit o’ heaven,” he says, dispatch out and acquisition up his papers. His agents associates are blockage at addition motel. And so, with a little wave, he escapes afresh into adored solitude.

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