Nader makes second bid

Ralph Nader, a consumer advocate and 2000 presidential candidate, announced Sunday he would run for the White House again. This time, however, Nader is running as an independent candidate, not as the Green Party's nominee.

Many Democrats accuse Nader of stealing votes from former Vice President Al Gore, a 2000 presidential candidate, handing the presidency to George W. Bush.

Some fear Nader will do the same to the democratic nominee in 2004.

"It would be a shame if what Americans remember after a lifetime fighting for working families, is the fact that (Nader) did not fight on the side of the Democratic Party and its nominee when all of those issues he and us hold dear," said Debra DeShong, spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, in a statement issued Friday.

Kevin Zeese, a member of Nader's campaign staff, said Nader will not be fighting against the Democrats, but will "make it so Democrats can't take their base for granted."

He said Democrats "have a tendency to move so far to the center people can't tell they're Democrats anymore. With Nader in there, they can't run to the center so far."

Zeese downplayed the "vote stealing" accusations by pointing to numbers in two states which people accuse Nader of "stealing" from Gore. In Florida, where Bush and Gore were nearly tied, Zeese said exit polls showed that "in a Nader-less" race, Bush would have beat Gore 49 to 47 percent.

In New Hampshire, Zeese said Nader's votes came from twice as many Republicans as Democrats.

John McAdams, assistant professor of political science, said Nader cost Gore Florida, but agreed New Hampshire was ambiguous. He said, however, that the people who voted for Nader in 2000 will not likely vote for him again.

"Voting is a little more idiosyncratic than you might think," McAdams said. "(It is) not as ideological as you might think."

He said he would be surprised if Nader got half as many votes as he did in 2000.

"I don't think the Nader people are that stupid that they'll do it again," he said.

The Nader campaign, however, feels their candidate can draw support from former Bush voters, upset with the president, who would not vote for a Democrat, Zeese said. The Muslim and Arab community voted "in a majority" for Bush in 2000 because he said he would not support secret trials of suspected criminals.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Bush changed his policy and alienated this group, according to Zeese. However, they would not vote in strong numbers for a Democrat because "the Democrats are so pro-Israel," Zeese said. He feels the voters are offered a new choice in Nader.

This idea of a third option is another reason Nader is running, Zeese said.

"(Nader) does want to see more voices and choices in the political area" in both the presidential election and state and local elections, Zeese said. Nader would like to make it easier for third party and independent candidates to get on state ballots in the future. Zeese said he would not be surprised to see lawsuits against states with harsh standards for these candidates to make the ballot as a result of Nader's campaign.

In a statement released Sunday, DeShong said she hoped Nader will keep his word about not criticizing their nominee and focus only on Bush.

The Bush camp, however, did not seem worried.

"The fact is that we're focusing on the president's strong and principled leadership, his positive agenda for a second term, the benefits of his policies when it comes to the war on terror and improving our economy," said Jennifer Millerwise, spokeswoman for Bush's re-election campaign. "The president is going to be re-elected regardless of who emerges as the Democratic nominee and regardless of how many third-party or independent candidates run for president."