- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 6, 2008

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Bill Bradley, a former presidential hopeful and senator, today endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president.

“Barack Obama is building a broad new coalition that brings together Democrats, independents and Republicans by once again making idealism a central focus of our politics,” Bradley said in a statement released by Obama’s campaign. “Because of his enormous appeal to Americans of all ages and backgrounds, Obama is the candidate best positioned to win in November. … His movement for change could create a new era of American politics — truly a new American story.”

Bradley, a hall of fame professional basketball player, will campaign for Obama tomorrow, Obama aides told Associated Press.

The aides, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the formal announcement, said they hoped the endorsement would help Obama end rival Hillary Rodham Clinton’s status as the national front-runner. Clinton finished a disappointing third in Iowa’s caucuses last week and is deadlocked with Obama in New Hampshire, according to a poll released yesterday.

The CNN-WMUR poll conducted Friday night and yesterday afternoon showed the two in a tight race, each with 33 percent support. A second poll, from The Concord Monitor and Research 2000, shows Obama at 34 and Clinton at 33.

New Hampshire’s presidential primary is Tuesday.

Bradley, who represented New Jersey in the Senate, ran in the 2000 presidential primary against Vice President Al Gore, appealing to the party’s liberal base and portraying himself as an alternative to Gore. Bradley failed to win because many of New Hampshire’s largest voting bloc — independents — flocked to Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Bradley briefly considered running in 2004, but instead supported then-Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

Obama said he was grateful for the endorsement.

“Bill Bradley has always called on Americans to reach for what is possible in our politics,” Obama said in the statement. “As a presidential candidate and author, he has continued to challenge us to build a mandate for pragmatic solutions and progressive change.”

Obama’s state director, Matt Rodriguez, was a top aide to Bradley’s campaign here in 2000.

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