Nader Says Kerry 'Blew It,' Ensuring Bush Will Win Race
WASHINGTON -- Democrat John Kerry has already lost the 2004 presidential race and the country should get ready for another four years of President Bush's leadership, Ralph Nader said Thursday.
Published on Friday, September 10, 2004 by The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana)
"Bush is mocking him, he's taunting him," Nader said. "There's no strategy by the Democrats."
Nader, battling to get on ballots as an independent presidential candidate, predicted Bush would win by a margin so large that his own candidacy would not be seen as a factor in the outcome. Democratic leaders blamed Nader for former Vice President Al Gore's loss to Bush in 2000.
"The telltale sign" of looming defeat is the Democrats' failure to register 9 million black voters, Nader told reporters.
"They're going to lose it because John Kerry has surrounded himself with corporate consultants who represent some of the seediest and most craven companies and industries, and they are not letting him think for himself," said Nader, whose fight against corporate influence over government and politics is his own rationale for running.
Kerry "blew it," Nader said, by neglecting the Democratic Party's historic roots.
"The biggest winning strategy for the Kerry campaign is the living wage. One of every three workers doesn't make a living wage. That is what the Democratic Party used to stand for."
With just under eight weeks remaining before Election Day, Nader said Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., have "lost the clarity of being an alternative to Bush and Cheney, even though this is the most vulnerable administration in many years."
The Kerry campaign did not respond to requests for comment. Political analysts, however, think the contest is far from over.
"My guess is that this is Ralph Nader seeking revenge against Democrats for their attacks on him and keeping him off the ballot in a number of states," said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist.
"It's also Nader's attempt to get more Kerry people to cast protest votes for him," Sabato said, calling this "a self-serving analysis." If Nader convinces Kerry supporters that their candidate can't win, "they can vote for Nader without guilt."
Right now, things look grim for Kerry, Sabato acknowledged. "But in early August," he added, "most analysts thought Bush was done for. So we've got 54 days to go and a lot could happen and probably will. This is a wild year. I wouldn't bet a nickel on the election results right now."
But Kerry and the Democrats have indeed failed to make a strong effort to register black voters, said Ron Walters, a black political activist and University of Maryland political scientist.
"Nader is absolutely right about this," Walters said. "It's one of those subterranean stories nobody wants to talk about because Kerry could lose."
While Democrats have raised enormous amounts of money in this campaign, Walters said, money is only "trickling in" to traditional black voter-registration groups.
The independent political organizations known as 527s raised $150 million, he said, "but they have not used it very effectively -- they have tried to substitute people with Palm Pilots and Blackberries for the success we had over the years."
Walters said the problem was a hot topic of behind-the-scenes discussion Thursday at a Congressional Black Caucus Town Hall Meeting, part of a three-day legislative conference that he said drew 35,000 attendees.
Thomas Mann, an analyst at the Brookings Institution, called Nader's comments "utterly foolish."
"The election remains intensely competitive, with Kerry benefiting from the war in Iraq and the economy, and Bush, thus far, the better campaign. It's too close to call," Mann said.
Mann nonetheless said that he "leans toward" a Kerry victory.
Georgetown University political scientist Stephen Wayne took issue with Nader's remarks.
"I don't think the election has been decided yet," Wayne said, although he thinks Bush holds the advantage at the moment. "Kerry does have his work cut out for him and I wouldn't bet a lot of money on him, but I don't think he'll lose big, if he loses."
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