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Archive for Saturday, February 21, 2004

Nader expected to announce run for presidency as an independent

February 21, 2004

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— Ralph Nader, the candidate many Democrats blame for Al Gore's loss in 2000, will announce on Sunday whether he will make another bid for the White House, with all signs pointing to the consumer advocate joining the race as an independent.

If Nader decides to run, his late start, lack of party affiliation -- he won't be on the Green Party ticket this time -- and the challenge of getting his name on ballots in 50 states weigh against his candidacy.

So does the palpable anger among many Democrats after nearly four years of a Republican in the White House.

Calling Nader "egomaniacal," veteran Democratic strategist Dane Strother said the independent would "have the same impact he had last time. He would hand the presidency to George Bush."

Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said he met with Nader several times urging him not to run because he could pull votes from the Democratic nominee.

"I don't want Ralph Nader's legacy that he got George Bush for eight years in this country," McAuliffe said on CNN. "I'm urging everybody to talk to Ralph Nader. I'd love him to take a role with our party, to energize people, to get out there and get the message out."

After weeks of postponing his decision, Nader will appear on NBC's "Meet the Press" to make the announcement, said Linda Schade, a spokeswoman for Nader's presidential exploratory committee. Schade declined to say what the decision would be, but said that Nader would be available for interviews after the television appearance and that he planned to hold a news conference Monday.

The prominent staging of his announcement, after months of active fund raising, suggests Nader, who turns 70 next week, is ready to take his progressive agenda directly to the voters, despite Democratic grumblings that he would only be helping President Bush secure another term.

As the Green Party's nominee in 2000, Nader appeared on the ballot in 43 states and Washington, D.C., garnering 2.7 percent of the vote. But in Florida and New Hampshire, Bush won such narrow victories that had Gore received Nader's votes in those states, he would have won the general election.

In six other states that Gore won -- Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin -- Nader received more votes than Gore's margin of victory, making those races even closer for the Democrats.

Despite being described by some as a spoiler, Nader for months has been gauging support for another run through an Internet site and exploratory committee.

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