Nader gathers only 70% supporters needed at Oregon Nader Covention
...special education teacher Wayne Grytting held up a sign that read, "Nader, Don't Be A Republican Tool."
"I'm out here protesting as a favor to Ralph Nader, because I don't want him to go down in history as a person who elected Bush twice" said Grytting, 55.
Nader rallies in NW but comes up short to make Ore. ballot
08:58 PM PDT on Monday, April 5, 2004
By kgw.com and AP Staff
Independent presidential hopeful Ralph Nader failed to qualify for Oregon's ballot on Monday night when fewer than 1,000 people showed up at a Portland gathering to sign their names to petitions, but Nader aides said he would try again.
Ralph Nader speaks to supporters in Seattle. (AP Photo)
A total of 741 people came to Portland's Roseland Theatre to sign the petitions -- fewer than the 1,000 signatures Nader needed to qualify for the Oregon ballot, said state elections director John Lindback.
"Even the best basketball player doesn't get a slam-dunk every time," Nader told the Portland crowd, acknowledging the numbers fell short.
To qualify for the ballot, Nader had needed 1,000 registered voters to gather in one place and sign their names on a petition.
The low turnout was a blow for Nader, who was counting on using his traditional strong showing in Oregon to make it the first state to put him on the 2004 ballot.
Greg Kafoury, head of Nader's Oregon campaign, said Nader would not abandon his quest to qualify for the Oregon ballot.
He said Nader would make use of another option under Oregon law -- collecting 15,000 signatures over a three-month period, rather than 1,000 signatures at a single gathering.
Nader made his presence felt in Oregon in 2000, garnering 5 percent of the vote, more than Al Gore's margin of victory over Bush in one of the closest presidential contests ever. Gore barely carried Oregon; he edged out George W. Bush by just 6,765 votes to win the state.
Oregon is seen as a battleground state again in 2004; at stake are Oregon's seven electoral votes.
Washington, where Nader picked up nearly 100,000 votes in 2002, will likely be another battleground state.
But the peitition signature threshold is much lower in Washington state, where third-party candidates have to gather just 200 signatures at a nominating convention held sometime between the last Saturday in June and the first Saturday in July.
Nader stopped in Seattle earlier Monday for a rally before he heading onto Portland for what was supposed to have been his official nominating convention here.
A crowd of about 400 peace activists, socialists and other liberals gave Nader a standing ovation at the town hall meeting in downtown Seattle.
Nader scolded the Bush administration for the war in Iraq and said both Republicans and Democrats are beholden to corporate interests. He said he's running for real change.
"Stack up the similarities and stack up the needs of the American people, and we simply cannot stand for a party that flunks, but doesn't flunk as badly as the other party," Nader told the Seattle crowd.
Dean, Kerry seek out Nader supporters
Many Democrats are urging Nader not to run. They fear he will take away Democratic votes the party will need if it is to defeat President Bush in November.
Just hours before Nader's appearance in Oregon, former Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean urged the state's voters to ignore the independent's presidential bid and stick with presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry.
"The only way to send President Bush back to Crawford, Texas, is to vote for John Kerry because, unfortunately, a vote for Ralph Nader is the same as a vote for George Bush," Dean said.
Dean, the former Vermont governor, had a strong following in Oregon, where supporters threw more fund-raising house parties for him than any other state except California. His plea could have some sway with voters.
Meantime, Democratic nominee John Kerry told reporters Monday that he would reach out to Nader backers in hopes of securing their support.
"I respect him. I'm not going to attack him in any way," Kerry said of Nader. "I'm just going to try to talk to his people and point out that we've got to beat George Bush. ... And I hope that by the end of this race I can make it unnecessary for people to feel they need to vote for someone else."
Current polls show Nader getting enough support to alter the Bush-Kerry race. Nader generally registers about 5 percent, with many of his supporters independents and young voters.
Nader's key issues include health care, environment
In his speech in Seattle, Nader vowed to fight for universal health care, a living wage for all workers, renewable energy, trade policies that discourage the outsourcing of American jobs and stronger protections for the environment.
Adam Ziemkowski, a 23-year-old Seattle college student, said he knows many Democrats who agree with a lot of things Nader says, but are supporting Kerry because they want Bush out of the White House.
"Don't get me wrong, I'd rather see Kerry win than Bush," Ziemkowski said, "but I'm out here trying to get people to realize that real change is possible and we don't have to settle for the lesser of two evils."
Dan DiLeva, an unemployed software developer who has voted for Nader in the past two presidential elections, said he's glad Nader is running again.
"We shouldn't be forced to choose between he lesser of two evils, because that's still a choice for evil," said DiLeva, 46 and a member of the Seattle branch of Socialist Alternative.
Standing outside the Seattle town hall, special education teacher Wayne Grytting held up a sign that read, "Nader, Don't Be A Republican Tool."
"I'm out here protesting as a favor to Ralph Nader, because I don't want him to go down in history as a person who elected Bush twice" said Grytting, 55, of Seattle.
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