(Cedar Rapids, IA) Former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley Monday accused Vice President Al Gore of telling falsehoods about his health care reform plan.

The two rivals for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination have offered competing plans to extend health care benefits to America’s uninsured and low-income Americans who work but don’t get insurance through their employer and cannot afford a private plan.

Gore has labeled the Bradley plan too expensive and this weekend suggested Bradley would have to raise taxes to pay for it.

“I have not proposed a tax increase,” Bradley said Monday during a news conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “I do not propose a tax increase. The Vice President knows that.”

The sharp response from Bradley marks a new phase of the campaign. For months, Gore did not acknowledge Bradley’s challenge, then this fall began criticizing Bradley’s proposals when public opinion polls showed the former NBA star winning support.

Bradley last Thursday struck back, and continued the mantra during his latest trip to Iowa, a state which hosts the Iowa Caucuses January 24, a sort of kick-off event for the political campaign.

“Health care for all Americans has been a fundamental democratic principle since Harry Truman, even F.D.R. I regret the Vice President has walked away from that,” Bradley said.

Bradley said the Vice President has misrepresented his health reform package.

“I think that he’s used scare tactics, going from group to group and trying to frighten people and I think that’s not the politics that I would practice,” Bradley said.

Bradley’s campaign is running television advertisements in New Hampshire and Iowa, spots his staffers say promise a positive campaign.

“Wouldn’t it be better if we had more than sound bites and photo ops when we are choosing a candidate?” Bradley says in the ad. “I think so. That’s why my campaign will try to be different. It’ll concentrate on issues, ones that concern you.”