Skip to comments.Democrats fight backroom battle over Nader candidacy
Posted on 07/13/2004 1:53:49 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
WASHINGTON (AFP) - While their presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) slugs it out publicly with George W. Bush, Democrats are waging a quiet backroom battle to keep independent Ralph Nader (news - web sites) off the election ballot as a potential spoiler.
With the November poll shaping up as another cliffhanger like the 2000 contest, which Democrats say Nader helped tip to Bush, the party is working on several fronts to restrict the presidency to a two-man race.
"Any votes that are taken away from John Kerry clearly are a threat," Democratic National Committee (news - web sites) (DNC) Chairman Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday at a news conference announcing details of the party's convention later this month.
He said he hoped that Nader, 70, a pioneering consumer advocate and environmental champion, did not want it "to be part of his legacy that he helped reelect and give this country eight years of George Bush."
McAuliffe said the Democrats were trying to persuade Nader to drop out but aides to the independent, as well as media reports, say they have gone farther, and have actively sought to keep him from getting the required petition signatures to put his name on state ballots.
Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese said the state petition fights appeared to be "a DNC-encouraged activity" with the green light given by McAuliffe. The national party chief only half denies it.
"There is nothing the DNC is doing," McAuliffe said. But he added that Nader had to be treated like any other candidate and, "I support in principle any state party who is out there to make sure these petitions are filed appropriately."
Nader garnered less than three percent of the vote in the 2000 election and is polling just about the same this year, while Kerry has opened up a five- or six-point lead over the Republican Bush.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, chair of the Democratic convention to be held in Boston from July 26 to 29, said Nader was no immediate threat. But he added, "If he climbs to six percent, maybe he'll cause us trouble."
The bigger danger for the Democrats is the wild-card Nader represents in the quirky US voting system, where the outcome is decided by electoral votes doled out among the states, mostly on a winner-take-all basis.
Nader pulled in 97,000 votes four years ago in the pivotal southeastern state of Florida, and is widely blamed for the defeat of outgoing vice president Al Gore (news - web sites), who lost the state and the presidency to Bush by 537 popular votes.
Zeese said that although Nader was not officially on any state ballot so far, he made it in 42 states plus the District of Columbia as the Green Party candidate in 2000 and "expects to do better this time."
Fueling the Democrats' angst are reports that Nader is getting under-the-table help from the Republicans in his ballot fights.
Newsweek magazine reported Sunday that the independent had raised 50,000 dollars from donors who had also given to Bush, and Republicans and conservative groups were working to get him on the ballot in key "battleground" states.
McAuliffe said he had called on Nader to spurn any organizational or financial help from the Republicans but has received no reply.
Zeese said the contributions were no big deal, just some wealthy men with similar views on the environment, corporate fraud and other issues.
"It's a lot of smoke and not really very much fire," he said. "The bigger concern is the anti-Democratic actions of the Democratic Party."
The Democrats, meanwhile, pressed their drive to woo Nader voters. "I am hopeful that people who have traditionally supported Ralph Nader will understand that John Kerry has fought for these issues his entire life." McAuliffe said.
Richardson said the party gala in Boston's Fleet Center sports arena would be "the most environmental friendly convention in history," even using solar and wind power instead of conventional fuels.
Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader (news - web sites), shown here July 9, could steal votes away from the Democrats in the November 2 election and reelect President George W. Bush (news - web sites) by default, Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic Party said.(AFP/Getty Images/File/Matthew Cavanaugh)
Former US President Bill Clinton (news - web sites) gives a speech to guests during a launch party to promote his autobiography, My Life, at the Guildhall in central London, Monday July 12, 2004. Earlier former US President said it was vital Britain maintains its 'special relationship' with America to help build a new world order and that Britain had to be the 'bridge' between America and Europe so they can stand side by side against terror. (AP photo / Fiona Hanson, Pool)
Threat (Democratic definition):A potential obstacle to power.
Threat (Republican definition)A potential obstacle to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The choice of Edwards, even more of a hawk than Kerry, should help Nader wherever he's on the ballot.
I'm NOT voting for Ralph Nader, but I must confess a sneaking admiration for his weathering all this pressure from the Democrat intelligentsia to drop out of this race.
Good man Ralph you just about have the demwits where you want them.
Want to ensure Ralph Nader gets on the ballot in your state? Go to:
Check out the upper left hand corner of the page.
Help them with their petition drive in your state if applicable. At the very least sign their petition. Really want to have some fun, circulate a petition around among friends and family.
Lets support democracy. Get Ralph on the ballot in as many states as possible.