Denver Consumer advocate Ralph Nader was nominated Sunday as the Green Party's presidential candidate, a party he said represents majority values including a fair marketplace, a clean environment and proper health care.
Nader promised a vigorous campaign, and said he believes he has a chance to win elections and force the two major political parties to listen to his issues.
In his acceptance speech, which lasted nearly two hours, Nader said the party stands for conservative goals and can "help shape the world's course to one of justice and peace for years to come."
"Don't conservatives, in contrast to corporationists, want movement toward a safe environment, toward ending corporate welfare? Let us not in this campaign prejudge any voters, for Green values are majoritarian values. They are more than that. Green values respect all peoples and all strivings to give greater rights to all voters," Nader said.
Nader is running with Winona LaDuke, an Ojibwe activist from the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota.
Nader got a cheering reception from delegates who said Democrats and Republicans are not worried Nader will be a spoiler but that Nader will win.
"The progressive movement is now rallying around Ralph Nader, as it should. This is not a political campaign but a call to arms," said Jim Hightower, who gave Nader's nominating speech.
Nader was one of three candidates campaigning for the party's presidential nomination. He easily defeated challengers Jello Biafra, former lead singer for the Dead Kennedys punk band, and Stephen Gaskin, founder of a Tennessee commune. According to unofficial tallies, Nader got 295 votes, Gaskin 10 and Biafra 10. There was one vote for "none of the above."
Nader said the Green Party is moving into mainstream politics and he does not care if his campaign for president hurts Texas Gov. George W. Bush or Vice President Al Gore, as long as the major parties listen to his issues.
Nader also said he expects to present a challenge to the Republicans, Democrats and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan, and he urged frustrated voters to consider supporting a third party like the Greens.
In a wide-ranging news conference before the nomination, Nader urged the two major parties to open the presidential debates to all candidates who qualify for federal matching campaign funds.
The Commission on Presidential Debates is limiting participation to candidates with at least 15 percent support in national polls. That threshold currently excludes Nader and Buchanan, both of whom are in single digits in the surveys.
"The debates have now become a central part of the election process. Millions of voters apparently make up their minds on what they hear in these debates. To shut out legitimate third-party candidates from these debates is to limit the competitive democratic process on which the American electoral system is supposed to be built," Nader said.
Nader acknowledged his campaign could hurt Democrat Gore more than Republican Bush, especially in key states like California. But he said it "really doesn't matter" if his candidacy costs Gore the election as long as the two parties get the message and listen to the millions of disaffected voters who did not cast ballots in 1996.
A Newsweek poll on Saturday showed Nader ahead of Buchanan, but still far behind Bush and Gore, who were in a statistical tie at 42 percent and 40 percent respectively. Nader got 3 percent and Buchanan 2 percent in the poll. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Nader also is doing better than Buchanan in California, according to a survey there.