CRYSTAL CITY, MO—Bill Bradley became the latest presidential hopeful to come under fire for past indiscretions Tuesday, when the Democratic primary candidate vehemently denied allegations that he was into the band Spin Doctors in the early 1990s.
On Monday, Bradley refused to answer reporters' questions regarding his rumored ownership of the 1991 Spin Doctors album Pocket Full Of Kryptonite. The following day, at a press conference attended by more than 200 in his hometown of Crystal City, he issued an official denial of Spin Doctors fandom.
"Although I do believe there may have been a copy of that particular Spin Doctors album in my home in what would have been 1991 or 1992," said Bradley, reading from a prepared statement, "I cannot recall with any accuracy whether it belonged to me or someone else living in the house. In either case, I do not now, nor have I ever, considered myself a 'fan' of that lame band."
"In the distant past, I may have stated that the Spin Doctors had a couple of decent songs, but that doesn't mean I like them or their music," Bradley added. "When a song is on the radio a lot, as 'Two Princes' was, sometimes you end up kind of getting into it. That does not—I repeat, not—necessarily mean you even think it's a good song."
Despite Bradley's denial, numerous past and present members of Congress have come forward to contradict the former New Jersey senator's claims.
"I am sad to say that I not only personally witnessed Bill playing Pocket Full Of Kryptonite on several occasions," said U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), whose Senate office was next door to Bradley's from 1991 to 1994, "but he would repeatedly back up the CD to replay 'Little Miss Can't Be Wrong.'"
"I've never said anything before, but when Mr. Bradley announced his bid for the presidency, I felt it was my duty to step forward," U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords (R-VT) said. "I specifically recall him approaching me during a 1992 Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs meeting to ask if I'd heard the new Spin Doctors album, Homebelly Groove... Live."
When told of Jeffords' comments, Bradley said that if he did own Homebelly Groove, he "probably bought it used for a couple of dollars just to make fun of it, or possibly a lobbyist with terrible musical taste left it in my office by mistake."
Though Bradley "cannot recall all the specifics" of his early-'90s Spin Doctors-listening practices, he said he is certain that he has not listened to any of the band's albums in the last five years.
"As I said, I may have listened to Pocket Full Of Kryptonite a few times. And if I did, you must bear in mind that in 1991 America, you couldn't escape the thing," Bradley said. "But as far as later albums like Turn It Upside Down and You've Got To Believe In Something go, I can say with full confidence that I have never heard them in my entire life. Now, does that sound like a Spin Doctors fan?"
Bradley, who has been dubbed "Little Mister Can't Be Wrong" by the media, has been widely criticized for his evasiveness.
"[Bradley] needs to come clean once and for all," said Washington pundit Chris Matthews, host of CNBC's Hardball With Chris Matthews. "I'm sick of all these candidates skirting questions about their past peccadilloes. Either he was into the Spin Doctors or he wasn't. Let's get a yes or a no, Bill."
In the wake of the allegations, many Democrats have rallied to the embattled Bradley's defense.
"There are skeletons in everybody's closet," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who found himself in the spotlight last year when photos surfaced of him at a 1993 Blind Melon concert. "We've all done some things we're not proud of, especially in our younger days, but we learn from those mistakes."
"The public is actually very forgiving of politicians who are truthful about their past indiscretions," political commentator Laura Ingraham said. "But if Bradley thinks he can weasel out of this Spin Doctors controversy without confronting it head-on, he'd better watch it!"
Bradley urged members of the press to "stick to the issues and rise above these ugly, unfounded Spin Doctors rumors."
"Let's get back to what's important—the issues. I stand for campaign-finance reform, stricter gun control and universal health coverage for all Americans," Bradley said. "This campaign is not about The 'Doctors."
Many Americans still feel that Bradley has not adequately addressed the allegations.
"If Bill Bradley wants to be president of the United States, the most powerful man on Earth, don't we have the right to know what kind of judgement he has? Don't we, the American voting public, have the right to know if we're electing someone incapable of exercising good decision-making with regard to popular music?" asked Dolores Whittier of Pomona, CA. "The point is not merely that he was once into the Spin Doctors. The point is, knowing that he was into them, who would he be into as president? Matchbox 20? Smash Mouth? Sugar Ray? Those guys who did the 'I get knocked down' song? We need to know about our leaders' pasts if we are to have any hope of a better tomorrow."