(Clive, IA) Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey on Monday officially threw his support to democrat presidential candidate Bill Bradley and during an appearance in Iowa Kerrey stepped forward to defend Bradley on the ethanol issue, a volatile political topic in Iowa and one on which Bradley is changing his tune.
While Bradley served as a U.S. Senator from New Jersey, he opposed successful efforts to give ethanol — a corn-based fuel additive — a federal tax break.
“If I was a Senator from New Jersey and I didn’t take the position Bill Bradley did, I would not be serving my people very well, so I understood completely,” Kerrey told reporters during a news conference in a home in Clive, a suburb of Des Moines.
Bradley said he had “very specific, New Jersey-based reasons” for voting “no” on the ethanol tax break.
“In New Jersey, if ethanol was required, it would mean higher prices for New Jersey drivers,” Bradley said. “It would also mean that we couldn’t use what would be the cheapest additive in reformulated
gasoline, which would be methanol.”
But now that he’s running for president and seeking support in Iowa where its caucuses provide an opening test in the presidential campaign, Bradley has flipped on the issue.
“I’m not simply representing one state, but the country as a whole in all the complexities of the country and I think that ethanol is an important part of the reformulated gasoline program in the country and it will remain so,” Bradley said.
When asked what that meant, Bradley curtly replied that it means “there will be no raids on ethanol” in a Bradley administration. Nearly one month ago, George W. Bush, the front-runner in the republican presidential field, landed on Iowa soil to issue a similar declaration despite his oil-industry connections.
Bradley and Kerrey campaigned together in Clive and Omaha on Monday to publicly seal their political alliance. Kerrey denied his endorsement was a slap at democrat front-runner Al Gore.
“I made a choice approximately a week ago to go public to say that I’m endorsing Bill Bradley for President not because I dislike Al Gore,” Kerrey said, pausing for applause from the 100 Bradley supporters gathered for an outdoor barbecue. “I like Al Gore a lot. To me the choice is between two friends. The choice is between two able leaders.”
Kerrey, a 1992 candidate for the presidency, said he will make campaign appearances on Bradley’s behalf despite his own race for re-election to the Senate.
“Bill Bradley is a leader,” Kerrey said. “He has lead on race. He has lead on taxes. He has lead on Social Security, on trade, on many, many other issues…not because he chose them as a consequence of reading a poll and trying to decide what is going to be popular. He tried to decide what is right, what is best for the United States and for the world.”
Bradley said Kerrey’s endorsement helps, partly because of Kerrey’s experience on the presidential campaign trail.
“There are a lot of fake celebrities in the world today, but Bob Kerrey is a genuine American hero and his support is tremendously appreciated,” Bradley told supporters.
Kerrey is a decorated Vietnam War veteran who served in the Navy Seals.