(Des Moines, IA) Democrat presidential candidate Bill Bradley Saturday said he’s a true blue democrat, despite having considered running as an independent in 1996.

“That was never seriously considered,” Bradley said. “I said that, in part, because I was looking for a way to make our democracy more responsive.”

Bradley’s rival, Vice President Al Gore, has highlighted the issue, calling into question Bradley’s commitment to the Democratic Party. During a question-and-answer session with reporters in Des Moines, Bradley dismissed the idea his flirtation with an independent party candidacy is an issue with his supporters, or potential Democrat voters.

“After a very short consideration, I realized that it was going to take place within the Democratic Party,” Bradley said. “I’ve always been a democrat all my life and…that’s where my convictions were.”

Bradley left the United States Senate in 1996 and said he worked to ensure a Democrat succeeded him in the Senate.

“I then went out and campaigned for over 40 democrats up for election in 1996,” Bradley said.

This time around, Bradley is working on his own behalf, raising over $7.4 million in July, August and September. According to campaign documents, Bradley has over $10.7 million cash on hand, putting his campaign in a competitive position with Gore.

Bradley and his wife, Ernestine, were in Des Moines Saturday to participate in the “Race for the Cure” which attracted about 8,000 runners and walkers, helping to raise money for breast cancer research. Ernestine Bradley was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992.

The couple walked a mile, then helped hand out awards at a ceremony afterwards.