The Seattle Times
June 04, 2004
Nader ignores pleas to quit race, criticizes Kerry
By John McCormick
WASHINGTON — Despite new pleas for his departure from the presidential race, Ralph Nader vowed yesterday to press forward with his independent bid, as he suggested that presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry has failed to fully articulate his position on certain issues important to progressive voters.
The longtime consumer advocate, whose third-party candidacy has been blamed by some for tipping the 2000 election to George W. Bush, accused Democrats and Republicans of being so similar on many issues that "most voters in this country do not have a choice of two parties."
After a speech at the National Press Club, Nader gave a three-word answer when asked how Kerry could win his support. "Join our campaign," he quipped.
Nader also questioned the Massachusetts senator's responses to Nader's questions about energy policy during a recent meeting.
"He was eloquent on how strong he was going to be on energy efficiency and energy renewability when he is elected president, as he put it," Nader said. But Nader said that when he pressed for specifics, Kerry gave a generic response, including a statement Nader clearly found unacceptable: "Wait and see when I become president."
Yesterday's speech prompted an anti-Nader group to issue a letter that politely encouraged Nader's departure from the race.
"We believe the only way to fight the right wing and its policies is through unity amongst Democrats, progressives and Nader supporters," said a letter from the group, TheNaderFactor.com. "Without that unity, we fear that these extremist policies will continue unabated."
Nader, whose Green Party candidacy received about 2.7 percent of the vote four years ago, is working state by state to qualify for November ballots. He said he expects to be on the ballot in more states than in 2000, when voters had the option of picking him in 43 states, including Washington, and the District of Columbia.
Nader blasted a lack of federal standards for qualifying for state ballots, noting the need for only a few hundred signatures in some states and more than 100,000 in others.
He also questioned why Democrats complain about his 2000 presidential bid when millions more Democrats voted for Bush than for him. "I don't understand how deeply, arithmetically challenged these people are," he said.
If offered, Nader said, he would accept the Green Party's endorsement at a national convention in Milwaukee this month.
And even if future polls show he is destined to help Bush beat Kerry, the consumer advocate said he has no intention of dropping out.
"This campaign is not designed to help one of the major candidates to win," he said. "So the answer to your question is no."