Seven prominent politicians, including New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley and former Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas, have been secretly discussing the nation’s problems and the political solutions for them.
Tsongas said the seven make up a kind of “radical center” that feels “disenfranchised at this point” by current major party trends.
The group shares “a similar philosophy, that is socially inclusive, fiscally conservative,” Tsongas told The Associated Press in a broadcast interview Sunday.
He said the group is “talking about the fact that the two major parties seem to be pandering, in one case to the left, in another case to the right, and leaving a huge vacuum in the center.”
Meanwhile, a published report said the seven - five Democrats and two independents - are planning an independent presidential campaign.
The group has discussed in telephone conference calls the need for a new voice to challenge the two-party system, according to Time magazine.
Tsongas downplayed the magazine report.
“It may well be at the end of the day all this group does is articulate on paper where this country should be going,” he said “but I would not read very much into this. It’s just an early date for this group.”
A spokesman for Bradley said the seven have been discussing issues - but not an independent presidential candidacy.
“I don’t think the discussions have focused on that, but I don’t know that for a fact,” said Bernie Toon, Bradley’s chief of staff.
In editions going on sale Monday, Time identified the seven as Democrats Bradley; Tsongas; former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart; former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm; former Minnesota Rep. Tim Penny; and two independents, former Connecticut Gov. Lowell Weicker and Maine Gov. Angus King.
Penny confirmed in an interview with The Free Press of Mankato that he was part of the conference call among the seven politicians, but he disagreed with Time magazine’s report that says the group may challenge the Democratic and Republican parties in the next presidential race.
“I can confirm a conference call occurred,” Penny said. “I can not confirm that anything more than a conversation - a rather innocuous conversation - among politicians took place.”
The Time article said none of the group’s participants wanted to join Texas billionaire Ross Perot’s fledgling independent party for fear of seeming a Perot puppet.