Austin, Texas Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader is getting a little help from his friends -- and from President Bush's friends.
Nearly 10 percent of the Nader contributors who have given him at least $250 have a history of supporting the Republican president, national GOP candidates or the party, according to computer-assisted review of financial records by The Dallas Morning News.
Among the new crop of Nader donors: actor and former Nixon speechwriter Ben Stein, Florida frozen-food magnate Jeno Paulucci and Pennsylvania oil company executive Terrence Jacobs. All have strong ties to the GOP.
Democrats have warned that Nader's entry in the race could help Bush by drawing votes from John Kerry. Some analysts say Nader's third-party candidacy four years ago siphoned off Democratic voters and cost Al Gore the White House.
"Republicans are well aware that Ralph Nader played a spoiler role in the 2000 election. And there is no reason why they wouldn't want to encourage and help him do so again in 2004," said Jano Cabrera, a spokesman for the Democrat National Committee.
A spokesman for the Bush campaign declined to comment on Nader.
"We're focused on our campaign. We're focused on generating support for Republican candidates," said Danny Diaz, referring inquiries about Nader fund raising to his donors.
Republicans who have given to Nader offered a variety of explanations, including a desire to provide voters a choice in November and to highlight the consumer advocate's issues. Some donors said they were miffed by efforts, primarily Democrats, to keep Nader off the ballot.
None said the donation was designed to boost Bush's chances in the fall.
"Did I give $1,000 to Ralph Nader because I hope and believe he will be president? No," said California business executive Charles Ashman. "I don't believe that any more than Ralph Nader does. But I was offended to see this campaign to squelch him from being a candidate."
Ashman said he remained a staunch Republican. He contributed $2,000 to the Bush campaign, the maximum allowed for the general election, according to records.
For his part, Nader has dismissed the "spoiler" label Democrats have given him, saying he expects this time to draw equally from both parties.
In 2000, Nader was on the ballot in 43 states and the District of Columbia and got 2.7 percent of the vote nationwide. Experts say he was a deciding factor in two states, Florida and New Hampshire, both of which Bush won by razor-thin margins.