Nader for President 2004

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Nader for President 2004 is the campaign for consumer activist Ralph Nader in the 2004 United States Presidential election campaign.

Nader 2000 vs 2004

In 2000, the Association of State Green Parties nominated Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke as Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. They succeeded in being placed on the ballot in 44 states and received 2,882,897 votes, or 2.7% of all votes cast [1]. While the vote was less than early polling indicated was likely, it was sufficient to ensure the U.S. Green Party, would be on the ballot in 22 states and the District of Columbia in the 2004 election.

Late in 2003, Ralph Nader declared that he would not be the party's nominee for as Presidential candidate in 2004. However, in February, 2004, Nader announced his intention to run as an independent. A few months later, Nader stated that he would accept the "endorsement" rather than the "nomination" of the Green Party, as well as of other third parties. United States Green Party

The most notable opposition came from lawyer and activist David Cobb, who wanted to run a campaign focused on building the party. On June 26 the Green Party of the United States convention rejected the idea of an endorsement for Nader - who is not a member of the organisation - and chose Cobb as its presidential candidate. [2].

While Nader has won support from the Reform Party, which may get him on the ballot in seven states, his failure to gain support from the Green Party makes his task of just getting on to the ballot elsewhere a formidable task.

Nader is relaxed about support from the Reform Party despite some major differences on policies. "There's no quid pro quo here. They're very kind to let us use their ballot access, because the Democrats are using dirty tricks to try to deny millions of voters an opportunity to vote for the Nader-Peter Miguel Camejo ticket," Nader said on CNN's Crossfire program. Areas of agreement between the Reform Party platform and the Nader/Camejo platform include: denunciation of the Iraq military adventure and rapid withdrawal from Iraq, repeal of the Patriot Act, withdrawal from NAFTA and WTO, an end to the brutal traffic and exploitation of immigrant labor, an end to support for despotic regimes abroad, an end to irresponsibly deficit spending and pork-barrel corporate welfare, a crackdown on corporate unpatriotism, crime and fraud, and shifting the tax burden away from work. Nader's acceptance speech at the Reform Party Convention elaborated on these and other areas of strong agreement, as does the Reform Party website and his cover story interview with the 2000 Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan in American Conservative Magazine.[3] [4] [5]

Unlike his 2000 Presidential bid - which attracted widespread support - his 2004 campaign has struggled. Many who supported Nader's 2000 Presidential bid have refrained from supporting his current campaign.

Asked about Normon Solomon's opposition to his campaign, Nader argued that while they agreed on policies they disagreed on strategy: "... he believes in anybody but Bush, closes down his mind, and thinks that the Democrats own their votes, instead of having to earn them. For example, the Democrats, Kerry and Edwards voted for the war. They voted for the Patriot Act. They're all for corporate globalization. They are for the death penalty. And these are two parties that are corrupt with money. They're turning their back on the country. They've turned Washington, D.C. into corporate occupied territory," Nader said on CNN's Crossfire program.

Nader's campaign has also encountered organised opposition from the Democratic Party, which fears a repeat of the 2000 Presidential campaign where a very tight vote saw the Republican candidate George W. Bush win by the narrowest of margins.

However, exit polling from the Florida presidential election in 2000 shows that if Nader were not on the ballot, Bush would have defeated Gore 49% to 47%. [6][7] Recent polls have also shown that in Florida and in the nation as a whole, more Nader voters would choose Bush as a second choice over Kerry, if their first choice Nader is not on their state's ballot. That means even if Instant Runoff Voting were in place, Bush would get more Nader votes in the second-round count than Kerry would. [8]

In early July, Nader gave up trying to qualify for the ballot in Arizona after the Secretary of State estimated the campaign fell 550 signatures short of the threshold. Announcing his withdrawal, Nader blamed the lack of "safeguards against harassing challenges by opposing political forces … In this case the deep pocketed harassers were the Democrats and their three law firms." [9] Nader elaborated in a July 7 interview on Democracy Now: "They had filed suit on such things like one of our signature gatherers-- it takes 14,500 signatures to get on the Arizona ballot. One of the signature gatherers collected 550 signatures. He happened to be an ex-felon who paid his debt to society. He had been on juries. He was a registered voter. They found that he did not pay allegedly a $400 fine to the state, and they wanted to knock off 550 signatures. That would have cost us long days in litigation, and we had to drop our effort. We have limited funds under Federal Election Commission regulation. The democrats have unlimited funds outside of any regulation. That's what they're doing in Oregon and elsewhere. I told John Kerry to-- words to the wise. He may be presiding over a situation, whether he knows it or not, that can be a mini Watergate." [10]

As of mid-September the Nader campaign states that it is on the ballot in 35 states, 10 of those under court challenge, that it is suing to gain ballot access in 7 states that have blocked it, is awaiting petition validation in 2 states, and will conduct a write-in campaign in 6 states. [11]

The California Peace and Freedom Party opted to endorse jailed American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier instead of Nader. [12] The Missouri Secretary of State's office has ruled that the Nader campaign failed to get the requisite 10,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot there. [13]

In Michigan the Nader campaign stopped collecting signatures when he received the Reform Party nomination, only to have the Republican Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land [14] deny him the Reform Party ballot status because of a complaint by a rival Michigan state Reform Party who lost a bid last year to become the state's affiliate of the national Reform Party. Land claimed she could not resolve the dispute between rival claimants to the Reform Party ballot line, even though the national Reform Party had resolved the dispute a year earlier by an official vote, and a Reagan-appointed federal judge upheld her decision [15].

The Nader campaign is appealing that decision, and had filed the few thousand signatures it had gathered for Independent status in case it had to argue in court for more time to gather signatures as a partial remedy for being denied its expected Reform Party ballot line. The Republican Party, meanwhile, collected enough signatures on its own to place Nader on the ballot as an Independent, and prevailed in the Michigan Appeals Court over the two Democrats on the four-member Michigan Board of Canvassers who voted to deny Nader Independent ballot status on the argument that the Republican-gathered signatures were illegitimate. The Reform Party was founded by Ross Perot, whose 19% of the vote in the 1992 Presidential election is widely considered to have helped Clinton defeat Bush that year. Nader has consistently described his campaign as a "second front against George W. Bush." [16][17][18] [19][20]

Democrat criticisms on accepting funds from Republican supporters

In early July 2004, the San Francisco Chronicle revealed that of the more than $1 million raised - mostly in small donations - by Nader for his campaign, $23,000 of $275,000 in contributions larger than $1,000 had originated from known Republican contributors. While the amount represented a small percentage of his campaign funding, it was seized up by the Democratic Party as evidence that the Republican Party were mustering support for Nader to run as a 'spoiler'.

The Nader campaign responded with data showing that only 4% of his funds were from Republicans, far less than the 25% of his 2000 votes that came from Republicans, and that the same Republican donors donated more to Democrats this year than to Nader. [21]

In a debate with former Democrat Presidential aspirant Howard Dean at the National Press Club in Washington, Nader rejected Democrat calls to return the contributions as a "smear". Pointing out that Kerry too had also received money from former Republican contributors, Nader asked Dean "So you'll urge John Kerry to return all the money?". [22]

"You're talking about a minuscule amount, 5 percent, from Republican donors, many of whom I have worked with, Gino Pelushi (ph) on these pollution in the Mesabi Iron Range. You know Bob Monks, the key person on corporate governance issues. We've worked with these people," Nader said on CNN's Crossfire program.

However, Nader's vice presidential candidate, Peter Camejo, rejected accepting Republican money. "If you oppose the war, if you're against the Patriot Act, your money is welcome. But if your purpose is because you think this is going to have an electoral effect, we don't want that money. I take no money from people who disagree with us," Camejo told the San Francisco Chronicle. [23] (Camejo is a member of the Green Party of the United States).

When Camejo's views were put to Nader he disagreed, seeing no basis on which to refuse contributions from individuals. "If the Republican National Committee comes up and say, hey, here's some money, we'll throw it back into their face. We don't want that kind of money. But if individuals, whether for civil liberties purposes, because they want more voices and choices on the ballot for the American people to choose from, want to give us funds, why not?," he said on CNN's Crossfire.

More troubling have been revelations that Republican activists have mobilised conservative supporters in an attempt to ensure he is listed on the ballot, in an attempt to split the liberal vote. But it is troubling for democracy, not for the Kerry campaign, which polls show stands to gain as much as it loses in the voting booth from Nader's campaign.

Equally troubling to the anti-democratic contortions being made by the Republican Secretary of State and the Citizens for a Sound Economy CSE in Michigan to force Nader to run Independent rather than Reform Party, are the even worse anti-democratic contortions by the Democrat Secretary of State Bill Bradbury in Oregon, who was castigated recently by a Democrat judge for biased application of existing laws and non-existent laws to invalidate already county-validated Nader petition signatures. [24] [25]

In Iowa there are reports that "As they left a Bush campaign rally in Cedar Rapids Tuesday, activists were greeted by volunteers seeking help with 'a project to help the president'. The volunteers were seeking signatures on petitions to get Nader's name on the ballot, carefully explaining that Nader's presence would be helpful to Bush because the former consumer activist would drain votes from Kerry." This site claims that the volunteers were Nader supporters [26]. While it is not clear who they were it would be a shocking revelation if true.

Polls showing Nader pulling more support from Bush prove that the Nader campaign, however, was correct in its assertion that all the Republicans would accomplish by pushing its supporters to help Nader's ballot access efforts is to risk losing them to Nader's cause. This is evidenced further by John McCain's recent support, in his role as chair of the Reform Institute, for Nader's ballot access in Florida, despite polls showing Nader pulling more votes from Bush than from Kerry in that pivotal swing state, just as exit polls show he did in 2000. [27] [28] [29]

And Republican mobilization to assist Nader has been scant and has had little impact other than in Michigan, where Republican state officials and a Reagan-appointed federal judge have thus far managed to block Nader's intended run as the Reform Party candidate. Thus it appears that both major parties are working to block Nader's ballot access wherever his campaign might mobilize voters to abandon Bush or Kerry over popular issues they both oppose and Nader advocates, like rapid withdrawal from Iraq, elimination of income tax on incomes under $100,000, repeal of the Patriot Act, withdrawal from NAFTA, FTAA and WTO and single-payer Medicare-For-All universal health coverage.

Citizens for a Sound Economy selectively backs Nader's 2004 ballot bid

A case in point is Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), which traditionally backs predictable conservative causes, in July 2004 it placed phone calls to supporters to attend an open nominating convention to place Nader on the presidential ballot in Oregon, claiming it would help Bush's re-election effort. By clumsily issuing statements to the press regarding its cynical motives, the CSE provoked a backlash, and few supporters carried out its directive. This contrasts with the CSE's effort in Michigan, where it gathered 45,000 signatures in a short period of time to push Nader onto the ballot as an Independent while Republican state officials and a Reagan-appointed federal judge blocked Nader from his expected and intended status as the Reform Party candidate.

Both the Bush and Kerry campaigns expect the result of the Presidential vote in Oregon to be close. In a close election, the seven electoral college votes the state carries could prove decisive. However, an anti-Nader website actually cites polls that show Nader's presence on the ballot in Oregon results in a net gain for Kerry over Bush. [30][31]

To be listed on the ballot in Oregon, a candidate must submit signatures of either 15,000 registered voters or gather 1000 signatures in a day. One Saturday June 26 the Nader campaign held a convention in Portland at which 1100 attended. Democrat infiltrators, responding to an email directive sent out by Chair of the Multnomah County Democratic Party, flooded the hall, preventing legitimate Nader supporters from entering, so that when state officials closed and locked the doors, assured that well over 1000 were present, the Democrats sat without objection while a majority voice vote nominated Nader for President in Oregon, but then proceeded to refuse to fill out and hand in papers validating their status as registered voters. This refusal to verify their voter status caused the Secretary of State to deny Nader ballot access, despite the fact that 950 voters present did ultimately verify their status and there is little doubt that at least 50 of the 150 to 200 Democrat infiltrators present who refused to verity their voter status were in fact registered Oregon voters.

While the Nader campaign attempted to gather the necessary signatures at a convention in April, it fell well short of the target. While Nader pulled 77,000 votes in the state in his 2000 Presidential run, only 750 turned out to the convention. (Gore carried Oregon in 2000 by only 6,765). [32]

In late June the Oregonian reported that Lee Coleman, a member of the Oregon State Republican Central Committee, said that a message left on his answering machine urging his support for the Nader ballot bid left a return number for the Bush-Cheney campaign office in Oregon.

Spokesman for the Bush campaign, Steve Schmidt, told the Oregonian that no paid campaign staffers were making calls to help Nader but said that some volunteers may have made calls from the campaign's office. "The campaign certainly understands that when Republican volunteers see that there are Democrat volunteers trying to restrict the choice and keep Ralph Nader off the ballot, that they should work to expand choice," Schmidt said. [33]

On July 1 CNN reported that a Washington D.C. group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) had filed a complaint to the Federal Election Commission about support by the Oregon branch of Citizens for a Sound Economy and the Oregon Family Council for the Nader 2004 campaign for President.[34] [35] The complaint argued that the use of phone banks to encourage conservatives to attend a Nader nominating convention was an illegal in-kind contribution to the Nader campaign. [36]

In a media release announcing its complaint CREW argued that while both CSE and OFC are non-profit groups, in law they are no different from corporations which are not allowed to contribute directly to political campaigns. "The costs of creating the scripts as well as the costs of the telephone calls constitute prohibited in-kind contributions. The Oregon Republican Party, which could not have legally made the telephone calls on its own, violated conspiracy laws by working with OFC on the phone bank. BC '04 improperly allowed so called "volunteers" to use BC '04 resources to assist Ralph Nader's campaign," CREW stated.

"Finally, if the Nader campaign knew about the scripts and the calls, then it violated FEC law by accepting those contributions. In any event Nader must reimburse the corporations for the costs of the phone banks," it argued. While CSE and OFC contributed its support as an 'in-kind' contribution rather than direct financial support, CREW argues that the distinction makes no difference.

The complaint was also directed at Bush's re-election campaign and the Oregon Republican Party, which CREW alleged were involved in the strategy of seeking to ensure that Nader appeared on the ballot in Oregon and thereby boosted Bush's prospects by splitting some liberal supporters support away from Kerry.

The day after the June 26 convention, CSE issued a media release to explain its support for Nader. "Oregon CSE members are working to get Ralph Nader on the November ballot! While this sounds completely backwards-- Ralph Nader opposes nearly every issue CSE fights for-- but there's sound logic behind Oregon CSE's actions. CSE does not advocate the election or defeat of political candidates, but Oregon CSE members feel that having Nader on the ballot helps illuminate the strong similarities between the uber-liberal Nader and John Kerry, CSE stated.

The phone script, in the name of Russ Walker the director of Citizens for a Sound Economy in Oregon explained to supporters that "we have to drive a wedge through the Liberal Left's base of support' by ensuring Nader obtained the requisite 1000 signatures. [37] [38]

The President of CSE, Matt Kibbe, told CNN sveral days later that "we called about 1,000 folks in the Portland area and said this would be an opportunity to show up to provide clarity in the presidential debate". Kibbe rejected suggestions that the calls were co-ordinated with either the Bush or Nader campaigns.

In a July 2 media statement CSE said "in Oregon last week, CSE organized a phone bank to about 1,000 members in the Portland area … and asked them to attend a weekend Nader event to qualify him for the ballot in Oregon". CSE described its activism as an "effort to broaden the debate-- and ballot access".

"CSE is undeterred by these attacks, and plans to continue the Nader issue strategy with its activists in key battleground states like Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere," it stated. [39]

The Wisconsin state director of CSE, Cameron Sholty, told the New York Times that when Nader's petition drive starts in August they will help. "We'll definitely be spreading the word that we'd like to see Nader on the ballot ... We'll do phone trees and friends-of-friends, and those Nader events will be a great way to drive our membership to get out to sign petitions for Nader," Sholty said. [40]

Nader's campaign has had assistance from Republican supporters in other states too. In Nevada - where Nader's campaign submitted the names of 11,0000 voters in mid-July to qualify for the ballot - Republican political consultant Steve Wark provided assistance. Wark, Associated Press reported, is also consulting to the election campaigns of U.S. Senate Republican aspirant, Richard Ziser, and the re-election campaign of state Republican Senator Ray Rawson. [41]

Funds for the ballot bid, solicited via Republican networks, were to be sent to Wark's address. "Please join me in this gallant effort to give our President the best chance possible of winning in November," a fundraising appeal by Republican Stu Richardson stated.

"I raised money from friends of mine who are nonpartisan … It wasn't all Republicans, just folks I do business with," Wark told AP.

Asked on CNN's Crossfire program whether he renounced support from CSE, Nader was emphatic. "I do renounce it," he said.

However, Nader adeptly moved on to talk about the issues he wanted to discuss rather than CSE. "First of all, I haven't seen any results. And, second of all, the only thing about that organization, it's against congressional pay raises. And we -- Congress raises their salary, but they freeze the minimum wage. Congress gives themselves great health insurance, but they make sure that people don't have health insurance," he said.

Faced with the ongoing controversy, Nader/Camejo supporters have defended his right to run in the election in order to present an alternative to the overlap between the major parties. The problem, the president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Matt Gonzalez wrote in the San Francisco Examiner, is "simply that their running cannot be accommodated within our two-party system".

"So the answer, for many, is that they shouldn't run. But why make the solution an undemocratic one? Why not insist that the system be changed?," he argued. However, Gonzalez did not address the concern that Nader's campaign is reliant on conservative groups support to just get on the ballot.

Writing on Alternet, Jeff Cohen, acknowledeged that while Nader's 2000 campaign had been an inspiring challenge to the status quo he sees the current campaign differently. "Today, the sad reality on the ground is that a vote for Nader in these swing states is a vote for Bush's money, his organization, his rightwing activists," he wrote. [42]

At the July 2004 Democrat Convention, the Seattle Times reported that Toby Moffet from the Washington D.C. PR and corporate law firm and lobby shop, The Livingston Group was lobbying key Democrats to help United Progressives for Victory (UPV), an anti-Nader attack group. According to a memo from Moffet circulated to Democrats UPV would undertake market research, community organizing, media outreach and Internet marketing to undermine support for Nader. [43]

According to Moffet, opinion polling of potential Nader supporters falls when told "he is in bed with Republicans". Support provided by conservative groups - such as Citizens for a Sound Economy - to help get Nader onto the ballot, may well prove to be the final undoing of his campaign. [44]

The Nader campaign has responded by pointing out that Republican gestures at helping Nader, if they were truly more than empty gestures actually aimed at crowding Nader's anti-Bush message out of the media and discrediting his campaign, would have easily won him ballot access in all 50 states by now, as they easily did in Michigan where it served Republican purposes to torpedo his Reform Party ballot line in favor of an Independent line. The Nader campaign has also pointed out that the only one in bed with corporate Republicans and foes of progressive causes is Toby Moffet himself, having been a Vice President for Monsanto Corporation, one of the world's leading multinational corporations in the promotion of genetically modified crops which has successfully sued organic farmers for patent violations when genetically modified crops invaded and cross-pollinated with the organic farmers' crops, and now holding a high position in a corporate law and lobby firm founded by former Republican Congressman Robert Livingston, who in 1999 was to succeed Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House when he abruptly resigned, admitting an extra-marital affair. The Livingston Group has represented major military-industrial mega-corporations Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, as well as foreign governments like the Cayman Islands. [45] [46][47]

Despite the corrupt political cynicism displayed by both major parties in their corporate-funded media and legal battles, Nader persists in his call on citizens to become active in politics and think upon politics with a positive attitude. At the Reform Party convention, Nader discussed the Populist Movement and how farmers got into the political arena and taught themselves the complexities of international economics and different proposals for how to reorganize the U.S. monetary system to make it fair to people and no longer rigged against the People by the big banks and railroads, how they risked everything to stand up for their rights and for democracy. He said his campaign would be victorious if it sparked a simiilar movement of ordinary citizens for political and economic reform against the big corporations in our time, and if young people are drawn into politics by his campaign because, he said: "If you're not into politics, then you should read a little history my friend, because politics will be into you in a big way. But politics should never be considered a dirty word, which reflects the state of our politics. Because in ancient Athens, politics was the word to counteract autocracy. Politics meant the people governing themselves against autocratic regimes." [48]

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