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We're pleased that former Sen. Bill Bradley has entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. The prospect of 12 months of watching Vice President Al Gore gamely disentangle himself from Bill Clinton's embrace, before delivering an acceptance speech full of self-deprecating stiff jokes, was almost more than we could bear.

. . . There may actually be a race here. Yes, Gore is the prohibitive favorite: He is the incumbent vice president in a popular administration. But if Bradley, a thoughtful and well-respected former New Jersey senator and former basketball star, continues to raise lots of money, and gives Gore a scare in the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary, all bets are off. . . . But in order to make his candidacy plausible, Bradley has to show better judgment than he did recently in Harlem, where he spoke at a meeting called by the Rev. Al Sharpton. Bradley is appealing to the left wing of his party and, as such, is trying to lure black Democratic votes away from Gore. But in the company of Sharpton?

"Racial unity is who I am," Bradley declared at the meeting. We assume that he meant unity among the races, not within one race. But our confusion is understandable: If anyone has come to personify racial bigotry and opportunism, it is Sharpton. A reckless anti-Semite . . . no one has done more to accelerate racial tensions, preach racial divisiveness or promote outrageous racial untruths in New York than Sharpton. . . .

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