Washington Presidential candidate Ralph Nader took advantage of his newfound media spotlight Tuesday, speaking to an audience of journalists partially responsible for his high profile.
Before a full house of journalists and supporters at the National Press Club, the Green Party's nominee said he would raise gasoline taxes, replace Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and keep his sense of humor.
Nader is best known as the consumer advocate who in the 1960s took on the automobile industry's safety standards. Today, he is trying to broaden his issue base to wage a grass-roots run for the White House. He wants to end the "democracy gap" and expand the chance of other parties to challenge the two-party system.
The press has paid increased attention to Nader in recent weeks as he has risen in the national polls, getting as much as 7 percent in some polls, presumably cutting into Al Gore's support.
Nader favors fair trade, strong unions and universal health care.
He holds some positions that might not be popular with much of the public. On gasoline taxes, Nader said that even with prices approaching the $2 a gallon mark, the time has come to raise them gently.
"You've got to find a way that doesn't penalize working families that are trying to go to work," he said.
Nader also said he would re-educate, rather than reappoint, Greenspan because the Federal Reserve chairman relies on economic indicators that don't pay attention to the individual.
Nader said Gore could use his influence to give him access to the debates. Candidates have to meet a 15 percent threshold in the polls to participate.
"I think Mr. Bush is probably more amenable for all the obvious reasons of having a four-way debate," Nader said. "It shields him from Al Gore."
Nader known for his dry sense of humor didn't only talk policy. He also addressed whether he is too serious.
"I have been on Saturday Night Live three times," he quipped. "What is your excuse, George Bush and Al Gore?"