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Bradley To Address Black Legislators

December 2, 1999

BALTIMORE (AP) _ Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley was bringing a message of improving health care for America’s poorest residents and healing racial divisions in a morning address to the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.

``Bill Bradley talks about race wherever he goes. He talks about honesty and having candid discussions about race,″ said Kristen Ludecke, a Bradley spokeswoman. ``He plans to lead by example when it comes to (White House) appointments.″

Ludecke said Bradley also would discuss his plan to fix the nation’s health care system. A key component of the plan is to replace Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor and disabled, with a private insurance system.

``Bill Bradley believes that African-Americans and other minorities have not been served well by the current Medicaid system,″ she said.

Vice President Al Gore, who also is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, says Bradley’s health plan would cost too much to implement. But Ludecke said Gore’s and Bradley’s plans would spend the same amount of the current budget surplus.

Bradley, a former New Jersey senator, has called racial unity ``the defining moral issue of our time″ and set the pursuit of social integration at the top of his campaign agenda.

He has spiced his speeches to blacks with personal stories of how race has molded his careers in public service and as a New York Knicks basketball player.

But despite the focus, an Associated Press poll shows him trailing Gore among blacks.

Gore _ who addressed the black legislators on Wednesday _ was favored by 57 percent of black respondents who said they were Democrats or leaning Democratic, while Bradley was the choice of 24 percent in the telephone poll of 1,023 people. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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