Washington Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader rejected the "spoiler" label Wednesday as the election outcome hinged on a recount in Florida, where a fraction of his 96,837 votes could have ensured victory to Democratic nominee Al Gore.
"I've always said that it was Al Gore's election to lose. Only Al Gore could beat Al Gore," said Nader at the National Press Club. At least half the Nader voters would have chosen Gore if it had been a two-way race, according to surveys of voters leaving the polls, although one-third of Nader voters would not have cast ballots at all.
"What about taking votes from Al Gore? This is probably the most impudent assertion of (about) our campaign," Nader grumbled. He preferred to compare the fledgling Green Party to a new start-up company that is competing against established monopolies. "This is the beginning of the end of the two-party duopoly," he said.
Asked point-blank about the "spoiler" label, Nader noted that the outcome was not yet known. "Let's wait and see," he said. He then repeated what he has said throughout his campaign: "How can you spoil a system that's rotten to the core?"
Nader nationally earned 3 percent of the popular vote, falling short of the 5 percent his party needed to qualify for federal election money for the 2004 presidential campaign. He said such funds were "more as a convenience than as a necessity" and he blamed his lack of support on Democratic groups' all-out push to derail his candidacy in the last days of the campaign.
Nader received 5 percent or more in 11 states Alaska, Vermont, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Rhode Island, Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon and Utah and the District of Columbia. In Texas, he won 2 percent of the vote.
"The Green Party is alive and well," said Nader. "The campaign has established the Greens as a viable political force."