(Johnston, IA) Democrat Bill Bradley on Saturday said March 7, 2000 would be a “take-off day” for his bid to become his party’s pick for president. March 7 is the date set for California’s primary, as well as contests in other states, including Washington and New York.

“The take-off point is March 7th, when over 50 percent of the delegates (to the democratic national convention) will be selected,” Bradley said.

During an interview on Iowa Public Television, Bradley said he doesn’t have to beat rival Al Gore but must do better than expected in the campaign’s first contests — Iowa’s Caucuses and New Hampshire’s Primary — to build steam for the big day.

“I’m up against establishment power. I’m up against tremendous resources and all I have is reaching out to people, which I really feel is succeeding, but it still is a long fight,” Bradley, the former NBA star, said of his campaign game plan.

Bradley just this week formally kicked off his president campaign in his hometown of Crystal City, Missouri. The campaign caravan traveled to Iowa next, where Gore has been courting and receiving the endorsements of prominent labor groups, most notably the local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union, a major force in helping to elect a

democrat Governor in Iowa in 1998, the first time that’s happened in 30 years.

Bradley said he’ll appeal to the rank-and-file members of unions, particularly though a soon-to-be-announced plan which would offer universal health care coverage for all Americans.

“Whatever (union) leaders decide, I’m going after the votes of working families and I’m going after the votes of working families with a very direct approach, ” Bradley said.

Bradley said he would not “shy away” from courting factions within the democrat party, such as the union vote, but instead plans a more person-to-person appeal.

“You can conceive of the democratic party as a sequence of interest groups, which is interest group politics, or you can conceive of the democratic party as composed of individuals who are seeking change and want a clear direction for the future,” Bradley said.

Bradley spoke Friday night in Des Moines before STAR-PAC, the “Stop The Arms Race” Political Action Committee of local peace activists. At mid-day Saturday, Bradley spoke with supporters in Ames, a college town, then traveled across the state to Spencer for a visit to the Clay County Fair, which draws 300,000 during its nine-day run.