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Bradley Hits the Beach

June 30, 1999

HAMPTON, N.H. (AP) _ Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Bradley brought a little change of scenery to sunbathers on Hampton Beach Wednesday.

In his fifth trip to New Hampshire since announcing his candidacy in January, the former New Jersey senator and professional basketball player pounded about a half mile of sand, shaking hands, signing autographs and listening to people’s concerns.

Bradley chatted with potential voters in bikinis and swim trunks and listened to sand-covered children shouting ``Hi, Mr. President!″

John Flaminio of Worcester, Mass., noticed Bradley was wearing socks with the insignia of his old National Basketball Association team, the New York Knicks.

``I was wondering if anyone was going to notice,″ said a beaming Bradley.

Neil Waterman, who teaches seventh grade life science in Bangor, Maine, told Bradley that teachers’ salaries are too low.

And Don Gannon, a 25-year teacher in Worcester, Mass., said teachers need help getting more respect from the public. ``It seems everyone wants to take a potshot at teachers,″ he told Bradley.

Bradley told them that the ``most important thing in a child’s learning career is a teacher.″ He also noted that his mother and an aunt were teachers.

Bradley got one challenge during his 90-minute walk.

``I’ll vote for you if you go in the water,″ said Ann Millett of West Springfield, Mass. Bradley, wearing sneakers, got just barely into the water, not far enough to get his sneakers wet.

Still, Millett said she was satisfied.

``I support him on everything,″ said Helen Murray of Chester, who got Bradley to autograph a photograph of him and her 6-year old son taken in Derry a few months ago. ``He stands on his own two feet; I think he’s great.″

Bradley is Vice President Al Gore’s only announced rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.

``I think he has a tough road to hoe because of all the support (for) Gore,″ said Donald Williamson, who came from Andover, Mass., to see Bradley. ``But he’s the alternative and that can give him an advantage. Americans tend to for the underdog. It’s genetic.″

Bradley made weekend ``beach walks″ a habit when he was in the Senate. He said he goes to beaches ``out of respect to voters _ because the beach is where they are.″

``Besides,″ he said, ``wouldn’t your rather be out in the sun?″

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