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Sunday, October 10, 1999 Published at 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK

World: Americas

Democrats play down ambitions

Al Gore, left, and Bill Bradley at their first joint appearance

The two contenders for the US Democratic Party presidential nomination adopted dramatically different campaign styles in their first joint appearance.

But both shared a common aim - to be seen as an ordinary citizen, rather than a professional politician with an eye on the nation's top job.

[ image: Bill Bradley's low-key approach is popular with voters]
Bill Bradley's low-key approach is popular with voters
Former senator Bill Bradley and Vice President Al Gore addressed some 2,900 party faithful on Saturday in Iowa, the state that will stage the crucial first binding vote of the campaign next January.

Mr Bradley, fast catching up on his rival in the polls, came across as calm and studious from his spot behind the speaker's podium.

By contrast, Mr Gore was feisty and aggressive, pacing the stage and speaking directly to the party faithful.

Both played up their aversion to being seen as a career politician. But on policy, there was little between them.

'Didn't trust Government'

Mr Gore told the audience there was a time he felt disillusioned with politics: "I didn't want anything to do with the government because I didn't trust it".

[ image: Al Gore: Accused Mr Bradley of deserting the party]
Al Gore: Accused Mr Bradley of deserting the party
He changed his mind when he realised the power that government had over ordinary people's lives.

Mr Bradley said his mother wanted him to be a success and his father wanted him to be a gentleman - but neither wanted him to be a politician.

He urged Mr Gore to conduct a civil campaign, in which each candidate pushed the other to be the best, much like baseball sluggers Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa did in their home run race this year and last.

Mr Gore agreed, but immediately accused Mr Bradley of deserting the party when he left his senate seat in 1996, two years after the Republicans took control of Congress.

Mr Bradley aides argued that the former basketball star showed how much in tune he was with the American people by opting out of a corrupt political system.

But the two politicians do share something else in common: both are currently trailing Republican presidential front runner George W. Bush in the polls.

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