Reich: Locked in the Cabinet No More

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His weekend rally at Madison Square Garden was filled with reminiscences rather than rebounds, but on Monday Bill Bradley showed he's still got game, scoring a major slam-dunk over Democratic front-runner Al Gore. Visiting a school in New Hampshire, Bradley was formally endorsed by former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich, who called the candidate "a man of commitment, dedication and vision." Reich left the Cabinet in 1997, long after his decidedly liberal economics pitted him against moderate White House policy. "Reich's biggest frustration was that he felt that by focusing so single-mindedly on reducing the deficit, the Clinton administration missed a golden opportunity to invest in workers," says TIME Washington correspondent Karen Tumulty. "And no one, except maybe [former treasury secretary Robert] Rubin exemplified that dedication to deficit reduction more than Gore did." In fact, adds Tumulty, Reich and the vice president have never been philosophically close. "They parted ways in 1993."

Given the history between Reich and Gore, the veep's team couldn't have been very surprised by Reich's defection to the Bradley camp. There was a caustic note to the official response to the news, however, that might point to a little bit of hurt. "I hope this means Mr. Reich will educate Senator Bradley's team on Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security — all programs threatened by Bradley's agenda," Gore spokesman Chris Lehane huffed to the Associated Press. With Gore's long list of endorsements growing every day, his campaign is not in any way imperiled by Reich's decision. And, of course, there are plenty of wonks to go around; it looks as if the vice president won't have any trouble landing Rubin.