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Kerrey Set To Endorse Bradley

Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey on Monday will become the second senator to back the presidential campaign for former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, aides said.

Kerrey will issue his endorsement at a pancake breakfast in Omaha, Neb., and the two then will travel to suburban Des Moines to repeat the announcement in the state where precinct caucuses begin the presidential nominating season.

The Iowa event, at a private home, will attract activists friendly to the campaigns both of Kerrey and Bradley.

Kerrey will make it clear in his announcement that he is picking Bradley over Vice President Al Gore, said a Bradley aide who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Gore has the backing of much of the Democratic Party's establishment, including leaders in both the House and Senate. Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone is the only other senator who has endorsed Bradley, who served in the Senate for 18 years before stepping down.

Bill Bradley

In Kerrey, Bradley gets the backing of a decorated war hero who won the Medal of Honor for valor in Vietnam, and a former candidate for the Democratic nomination.

Kerrey unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination in 1992, and there had been speculation he would do so again in this election cycle.

The endorsement does not come as a great surprise. There have been tensions between Kerrey and the Clinton administration.

In addition, when announcing he had decided not to make the race, one of the reasons Kerrey cited was Bradley's presence in the field giving Democrats a choice of candidates.

Prior to opting out of the race, Kerrey did campaign in Iowa on a limited basis and developed something of a following that Bradley could use.

Much of the state's political infrastructure, however, is in Gore's hands. The largest players in the state's labor movement have endorsed Gore, giving him a huge organizational advantage.

In addition, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin the state's senior elected Democrat is friendly with Gore's campaign. He has not formally endorsed anyone, but is politically and personally close to Gore and most expect that endorsement at some point.

Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack has said he will not endorse anyone and has spoken approvingly of both Gore and Bradley.

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