Monday, October 11, 2004
Nader attacks Kerry on war
He says Democrat helped Bush agenda at home and abroad
By KATHY GEORGE
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
Ralph Nader, who took 4 percent of the 2000
presidential election votes in Washington state,
brought his struggling 2004 campaign to Seattle
Clinging to a 2 percent showing in recent nationwide
polls and hurt by the departure of celebrities'
support, Nader devoted most of his stump speech to
railing against the Democratic Party and its
presidential nominee, John Kerry.
"John Kerry eliminated all ambiguity in the first
(campaign) debate and outhawked George W. Bush. A vote
for Kerry is a vote for war," Nader said to an
enthusiastic crowd filling a Seattle Center meeting
The hundreds of people there gave a standing ovation
and cheers to Nader and his campaign theme -- that
Kerry and President Bush are birds of the same
feather, bent on excessive military spending and
But Nader faces growing resistance to his quest to
draw liberal voters away from Kerry.
Outside the meeting hall, an anti-Bush group handed
out "an open letter" to Nader fans saying the race is
too close to risk squandering votes on a progressive
candidate who cannot win.
Signed by U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, and
eight local activists, the letter said, "We share
Ralph's passion for America's workers and consumers.
We stand with him in demanding that all have access to
health care. ... We, too, value a peaceful world where
the United States is again respected.
"But we will not vote for Ralph Nader this election.
We will not risk giving George W. Bush four more years
to permanently destroy the programs on which we have
worked so diligently."
Meanwhile, Nader complained during yesterday's speech
about the recent defections of dozens of his famous
supporters, including Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder,
actress Susan Sarandon and her actor partner, Tim
Robbins, ice cream magnate Ben Cohen, and authors
Studs Terkel and Noam Chomsky.
He mocked the former supporters for issuing a
statement a few weeks ago in which they urged voters
in swing states to support Kerry, but he said that
they "strongly disagree with Kerry's policies on Iraq
and other issues."
Nader argued that liberals lose clout and credibility
when they support centrist Democrats without demanding
some movement to the left in return.
As evidence that Kerry has been pulled to the right,
Nader pointed to his numerous votes as a senator in
favor of the Bush agenda, including the war in Iraq,
the Patriot Act's broad federal surveillance tools,
and the No Child Left Behind Act's emphasis on
Kerry "knows that no matter what he does, he is still
going to be better than George W. Bush" in the eyes of
left-leaning voters, Nader said. "The liberals are
creating their own nightmare. They are demonstrating
that they have no breaking point."
In a brief news conference before his lengthy campaign
speech, Nader dismissed criticisms that he is again
playing into GOP hands by dividing the Democratic
He said Kerry is more likely to lose supporters to
Bush than to the Nader campaign.
Nader is widely viewed as a spoiler who drew critical
votes away from the Democrats' 2000 presidential
nominee. Al Gore lost narrowly to Bush partly because
of a razor-thin margin in Florida, where 97,488 people
voted for Nader.
Nader said exit polls after the 2000 election found
that if not for his candidacy, half of his supporters
would have skipped voting altogether, and a quarter
would have supported Bush.
"The two parties are one corporate party with two
heads wearing different makeup," he said.
Nader also announced his opposition to statewide
Initiative 872, a Nov. 2 ballot measure that would
allow the top two vote-getters in each primary
election race to advance to the general election --
regardless of which party they belong to.
He said it's an attack on "small-party" candidates
that would "dramatically decrease" the number of
candidates to choose from. Initiative proponents say
it expands choice by abandoning the current primary
system, in which voters must choose one party and vote
only for that party's candidates.