By Larry Downing, Reuters
Denver, Colorado — If consumer advocate turned Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader has any respect for the Democratic or Republican parties, he’s hiding it very well.
“The two-party system is overwhelming with its arrogance and complacency,” Nader told reporters at the beginning of the Green Party national nominating convention here on Saturday.
The 317 delegates from 39 states were expected to nominate Nader to be their presidential candidate on Sunday.
He’s not only still at odds with corporations and what he maintains is their control over the country, but argued that the Democratic and Republican parties were virtually alike.
“The two major parties, basically one corporate party with two heads, wearing different make up,” will provide presidential debates that will be the “drab versus the dreary,” said Nader, whose first salvo at corporate America was the 1965 book “Unsafe at Any Speed,” which took on the auto industry.
Nader, 66, hopes to get the Green Party on the ballot in all 50 states and raise $5 million for the campaign.
Nader is polling at about 4 percent nationally and has good support in California, a state rich in electoral votes. This means his presence on the ballot could hurt Vice President Al Gore.
Green Party leaders don’t like to brag about that prospect. “The main focus is getting people who have never voted,” said Anne Goeke, co-chair of the party’s steering committee.
But if the Greens manage to get 5 percent of the vote in November, the party could qualify for federal campaign matching funds in the 2004 presidential election.
Nader has acknowledged that most of his support would come at Gore’s expense, but has said Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan would drain votes from Texas Gov. George W. Bush on the other side of the political spectrum.
Nader has been reaching out to disaffected union workers who are upset about what they say are job losses due to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.
But the convention in Denver looked more like a gathering of the hippie counter-culture. Booths at the convention offered everything from pamphlets on industrial uses for hemp — including hemp flour that can be used for hemp tortilla chips — to information on tax policies that cut taxes on labor and increase them on lands used for timber, grazing and mining.
And maybe the best symbol of the Green Party was the little green, electric car outside the convention hotel. The 340-pound (155-kg) vehicle with two seats and an air bag can travel 65 miles (100 km) an hour. “It’s small and cute and will not pollute,” a sign outside the car said — a vehicle right up Nader’s alley.
The 317 Green Party delegates from 39 states were expected to nominate Ralph Nader as their presidential candidate June 25 in Denver. Nader is seen at a press conference following a meeting with Teamsters leadership June 22 in Washington.
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