Bill Bradley

From Academic Kids

This article is about the basketball player and politician. See also Bill Bradley (baseball player).

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Bill Bradley

William Warren "Bill" Bradley (born July 28, 1943) is an American former professional basketball player who later became a well-known U.S. Senator and presidential candidate.



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John McPhee's A Sense of Where You Are (1965) is a book-length profile of Bradley at age 21.

A native of Crystal City, Missouri and the son of Warren Bradley and Susie Bradley, Bill Bradley was a Rhodes Scholar and basketball player at Princeton University. He served as captain of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball team in 1964 and received the James E. Sullivan Award, presented to the United States' top amateur athlete, in 1965.

After graduating from Princeton and playing professional basketball briefly in Italy for Olimpia Milano, where he won a European Champions Cup (the most important trophy for European teams), he was recruited by the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association. In ten years playing forward for the Knicks, "Dollar Bill," as he was known, scored a total of 9,217 points and won two NBA championships, in 1970 and 1973. Bradley retired from basketball in 1977. In 1982, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 1984 the Knicks retired his number 24 jersey.


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Bradley had harbored political ambitions for years, and in 1978 decided to run for United States Senate in New Jersey, for a seat held by liberal Republican Clifford P. Case. Case lost his primary to an anti-tax conservative, and Bradley won the seat with 55% of the vote. In the Senate, Bradley acquired a reputation for being somewhat aloof and a definite policy wonk, specializing in complex reform initiatives, such as an overhaul of the federal tax code. Although always known for his preoccupation with social justice and political reform, he sometimes broke ranks with his own caucus to support the Reagan administration (initially supporting, for instance, Reagan's policy of aiding the Contras in Nicaragua). He cruised to re-election in 1984 with 64% of the vote, and was widely expected to do the same in 1990, until a controversy over a state income tax increase, which he refused to take a position on, turned his then-obscure challenger Christine Todd Whitman into a viable candidate. He eventually won by less than three percent of the vote (50%), despite outspending Whitman by eight-to-one. Over time he grew increasingly frustrated with the Senate and in 1996 he opted not to run for re-election, publicly declaring American politics "broken."

Bradley had been talked about as a presidential contender as early as the 1988 election, finally deciding to make a run in the 2000 primaries, challenging incumbent Vice President Al Gore for his party's nomination. Bradley positioned himself as an outsider and a progressive alternative (though his Senate record was not significantly further left than Gore's), and campaigned on the issues of campaign finance reform, gun control, and children's poverty. Bradley's policies are broadly accepted as neoliberal; he is socially progressive, while arguing in favor of the free market.

Bradley made a significant issue of Al Gore's receipt of corporate donations, although the Los Angeles Times revealed Bradley received the lowest number of small donations of any candidate from either party.[1] ( Gore made significant attacks on Bradley during the primary fight accusing him of disloyalty to the Democratic party and accused Bradley:

I did not walk away from the fight when (former Speaker) Newt Gingrich took over the Congress. I did not walk away from the fight when Reaganomics was put up for a vote on the floor. I did not walk away from the fight when farmers needed farm credit.

Despite strong fundraising with Wall Street and large corporations, strong early showing in opinion polls, and a surprisingly close New Hampshire primary finish (46% to Gore's 50%), Bradley's campaign ultimately floundered, in part because it was outshadowed by Senator John McCain's far more attention-gaining but ultimately unsuccessful campaign for the Republican nomination.

Bradley has mostly stayed out of the limelight since his failed presidential campaign, working mainly as a corporate consultant. Despite some speculation about a second presidential run, he did not run in 2004 and has shown no interest in returning to political office. In 2002, he reportedly turned down a last-minute offer from New Jersey Democrats to replace Robert Torricelli on the ballot (Frank Lautenberg accepted on the spot). On January 6, 2004, Bradley endorsed Howard Dean for President in 2004, joining his old rival, Al Gore, in making that move—his endorsement was made shortly before Dean withdrew from the race.

Further reading

External links

Preceded by:
Clifford P. Case
U.S. Senator from New Jersey
Succeeded by:
Robert Torricelli

Template:End boxde:Bill Bradley


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