Social responsibility vs. personal responsibility: When Bradley talks about poverty, he emphasizes society's moral obligation to alleviate it. "I speak today for justice," he declared when introducing his child-poverty agenda. By contrast, Gore talks about reciprocal responsibility; like Clinton, he argues that while government should expand opportunity, it must also demand personal responsibility from those it helps.
Thus, Gore has pledged to maintain the work requirements and time limits on aid included in the 1996 welfare reform bill, while Bradley hasn't ruled out the possibility of loosening them. And Gore puts much more emphasis than Bradley on the role of family breakup in perpetuating childhood poverty; last month the vice president proposed measures to toughen child support collection, help men delinquent in their payments find work and encourage absent fathers to reconnect with their families.
Public investment vs. fiscal discipline: Both have faced questions about the price tag of their agenda; Gore recently had to downsize some of his proposals to release a 10-year projection showing they would fit into the anticipated $1.1 trillion surplus. Bradley has proposed new spending that he says would cost $77 billion annually but that critics say could cost far more.
Bradley has said he considers a balanced budget important, but he's been vague on whether he would scale back his proposals, or accept a return to deficit spending, if the surplus is smaller than expected. Gore has put more weight on fiscal discipline: he's pledged to keep the budget in balance every year and criticized Bradley's spending plans as excessive.
Republicans, meanwhile, are already painting both men as recidivist big-spenders.
Process reform vs. program reform: Reform of the political process is more central to Bradley's vision than Gore's. While Gore has embraced the leading congressional campaign finance bill--which is centered on a ban on unregulated "soft" money donations to political parties--Bradley would go much further. He wants to ban political action committee contributions to federal candidates, provide complete public financing for congressional elections and make it easier for people to vote by allowing registration on Election Day.
Gore appears more interested than Bradley in the details of reforming the way government programs work, in some cases by applying ideas typically associated with conservatives--such as pushing states to require periodic performance reviews of teachers or increasing the use of faith-based charities in social programs. The exception to this pattern is entitlements: though Bradley hasn't put out specific proposals, he has signaled more willingness than Gore to consider such steps as raising the retirement age for Social Security or charging affluent retirees a larger Medicare premium.
Dove vs. hawk: Some of the two men's starkest differences come over defense and foreign policy. Bradley opposed the use of force in the Gulf War, opposes any increase in defense spending and was dubious about the military intervention in Kosovo. Gore supported the Gulf War and the Kosovo intervention and wants to increase defense spending by $127 billion over the next decade.
Bradley stands mostly to Gore's left on social policy too. Bradley wants to let gays serve openly in the military, while Gore has called for implementing the existing "don't ask don't tell" policy with "more compassion." On crime, Bradley wants to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for first-time drug offenders, and the penalties associated with possession or sale of crack cocaine (both of which critics say contribute to disproportionate incarceration of African Americans); Gore, by contrast, has stressed proposals to hire more police officers, require regular drug testing of anyone on parole and add a victim's bill of rights to the constitution.
All of this reprises old left-versus-center debates among Democrats--though the differences in this race remain bounded by even Bradley's reluctance to completely abandon the centrist formula that Clinton successfully employed.
"There is some echo of the classic ideological divisions in the party, but it takes a new form because of what Clinton accomplished, which is to show the party that you can win elections by going back to the center," says Fordham University political scientist David Lawrence.