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Bradley Blasts Gore; Accuses VP Of Distorting Fellow Dems Record

By Mike Allen

Bill Bradley angrily accused Vice President Al Gore Thursday of repeatedly lying about his record and intentions, but said he did not believe he had been hurt by their increasingly harsh debate over health care.

“I think we’ve reached a sad day in our political life in this country when a sitting vice president distorts a fellow Democrat’s record because he thinks he can score a few political points,” Bradley said.

Bradley’s attack, which came during an appeal to black legislators meeting in Baltimore, appeared to be part of an effort to regain ground he has lost in polls since his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination began arguing that Bradley’s health care plan is too expensive and would hurt more people than it would help.

Besides Bradley’s blasts from the stump, which have escalated by the day, his once-thrifty campaign has begun to far outspend Gore on television ads in New Hampshire. Several key supporters said privately that they fear Bradley blew his lead of early fall by retaining his gentlemanly forbearance too long.

But in an interview Thursday at The Washington Post that ranged from foreign policy and race relations to the problems of the poor, Bradley said he did not believe Gore had wounded him permanently. “I haven’t seen any real evidence that the static is making a difference in people’s receptivity,” he said. “We don’t have momentum -- we have a little traction. You want momentum in January, February and March -- not now.”

With the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary less than two months away, Bradley said he still had time to make his case. “It’s a big country,” he said.

In Iowa, Gore said during a satellite interview with New York television stations, “I haven’t attacked him and will not attack him. I have discussed the issues and I’ll continue to do that, whether it makes him sad or happy.”