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Bill Bradley to endorse Obama for president

Bill Bradley, a former presidential hopeful and senator, planned to endorse Barack Obama for president on Sunday, aides said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Bill Bradley, a former presidential hopeful and senator, planned to endorse Barack Obama for president on Sunday, aides said.

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

The aides, speaking on condition of anonymity in advance of the formal announcement, said they hope the endorsement will help Obama end the national front-runner status for Clinton, who placed a disappointing third in Iowa's caucuses last week and is deadlocked with Obama in New Hampshire according to a poll released Saturday.

"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 release scheduled to be released on Sunday.

"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."

Race remains tight
Obama remains in a tight race with Clinton, both posting 33 percent support in a CNN-WMUR poll conducted two days after Barack Obama's Iowa victory and released Saturday night. A second poll, from The Concord Monitor and Research 2000, shows Obama at 34 and Clinton at 33. Clinton now seeks to stop Obama's momentum in New Hampshire, where the presidential primary is on Tuesday.

Bradley ran in the 2000 presidential primary against Vice President Al Gore. He sought to paint himself as an alternative to the incumbent Gore, appealing to the party's liberal base. He failed to win, however, because many of New Hampshire's largest voting bloc — independents — flocked to Sen. John McCain's first bid.

Bradley briefly considered a 2004 bid but instead stayed a consultant. In that presidential primary, he supported then-Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

"Bill Bradley has always called on Americans to reach for what is possible in our politics," Obama said in a draft statement. "As a presidential candidate and author, he has continued to challenge us to build a mandate for pragmatic solutions and progressive change, and I am truly grateful that he has endorsed my candidacy."

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