Tags: Nader | Tells | Supporters | They're | Building | New | Party

Nader Tells Supporters They're Building New Party

Sunday, 05 November 2000 12:00 AM

At the last in a series of "super rallies" before Tuesday's election, Nader told the crowd in downtown Washington's MCI Center arena that his volunteer-driven campaign was the first step in creating a third-party alternative to what he and other speakers repeatedly portrayed as a choice between "the lesser of two evils."

Nader leveled the harshest language of his speech at the Democratic Party, calling it a "hollowed-out" version of its more liberal former self. The longtime consumer advocate and his supporters rejected the frequent calls by prominent Democrats for Nader to quit the race. They argue that Nader's participation would take away votes from candidate Al Gore and ensure a victory by Republican George W. Bush.

A tracking poll of about 1,200 likely voters conducted Friday through Sunday by pollster John Zogby showed Bush, the Texas governor, with 47 percent, Vice President Gore with 46 percent and Nader with 5 percent. A margin of error of three percentage points means the race between the two front-runners effectively remains a dead heat. Another survey released Sunday by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal gave Bush 47 percent, Gore 44 percent and Nader 4 percent of the 751 respondents, with a margin of error of 3.6 percent.

"It's time to go beyond oratory, beyond rhetoric ... the phony phrases of 'compassionate conservatism,' the phony phrases of Al Gore when he says, 'I'll fight for you, not for the powerful,' " Nader said, drawing whoops and other like-minded sentiments from the crowd.

Just two days before the vote, Nader ran through the litany of economic, criminal justice and electoral issues he has cited throughout his campaign – many of which he says the two major parties are simply ignoring for fear of upsetting the "corporate interests" that donate millions of dollars to both the Republicans and Democrats each election cycle.

Among them: publicly funded health insurance for all Americans; public funding of political campaigns; the death penalty, which Bush and Gore both support but which Nader said is unfairly applied to poor defendants who cannot afford adequate legal counsel; the nation's growing prison population ("the biggest federal housing program there is") and a rejection of rehabilitation as a goal in the criminal justice system; taxpayer-funded research of new drug treatments that lead to patents being granted "for free" by the federal government to the pharmaceutical companies; laws that make it harder for employees to form unions; tax breaks for business that amount to "corporate welfare"; the "failed" war on drugs, with its emphasis on interdiction and prosecution rather than on rehabilitating addicts; and free-trade pacts that do not include safeguards for workers' rights or the environment (Nader repeated his call that the United States should pull out of both the World Trade Organization and NAFTA and condition its participation on the adoption of such protections).

On Sunday Nader repeated his familiar characterization of Republicans and Democrats as interchangeable in their positions, saying the two "have morphed into a [single] corporate party" beholden to big business. That was his only reference to this supposed uniformity, however, suggesting Nader has begun acknowledging some distinctions, as when he told the New York Times this week that "there are few major differences" between Bush and Gore.

Amid supporters hoisting signs declaring "Not for Sale" and "Vote Your Conscience," Nader and the prominent liberals who spoke before him (former talk show host Phil Donahue, filmmaker Michael Moore, rock singer-songwriter Patti Smith, public radio commentator Jim Hightower, Harvard professor Cornel West and author Randall Robinson, along with Green Party and labor leaders) made no secret of their disgust with some Democrats' insistence that Nader should step aside so as not to harm Gore's chances for victory on Tuesday.

Instead, each urged the crowd to use the momentum of the current campaign to build the Green Party – actually a coalition of various Green parties from most of the 50 states that has gotten Nader on the ballot in 45 states -- into a third party that can challenge Republicans and Democrats in subsequent elections.

"This country deserves the best – it deserves a broad choice for the people," the candidate said.

Nader, at the rally and in an interview earlier Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," addressed issues of foreign policy in greater detail than he usually does. He said the United States, to fulfill its promise of being an "honest broker" in the Middle East peace process, should avoid siding with Israel, which he said is a "technical and economic powerhouse" that does not need the billions of dollars in U.S. aid it receives each year.

Copyright 2000 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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At the last in a series of super rallies before Tuesday's election, Nader told the crowd in downtown Washington's MCI Center arena that his volunteer-driven campaign was the first step in creating a third-party alternative to what he and other speakers repeatedly...
Sunday, 05 November 2000 12:00 AM
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