Former allies to Nader: Yield the field to Gore

The Associated Press
Friday November 03, 2000

The Associated Press 


WASHINGTON — Attacks against Ralph Nader are mounting from groups once closely aligned with his views but now angered by his refusal to get out of Democrat Al Gore’s way in Tuesday’s election. 

But the Green Party candidate, a possible spoiler in closely contested states, remained defiant Thursday in the face of criticism from environmentalists, organized labor, gays and abortion-rights groups that he could tip the election to Republican George W. Bush. 

“What are these people doing?” he asked. “They’re going around the country trying to salvage Al Gore’s campaign.” 

Nader urged supporters in Seattle not to be swayed by “surrogates of Al Gore.” 

“These are the same surrogates who couldn’t get their calls returned from the Clinton-Gore administration for eight years,” Nader told the rally. 

The Sierra Club, National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, the National Organization for Women, the gay-rights Human Rights Campaign and the leading public sector union have joined at least 20 Democratic senators and congressmen in stumping for Gore. 

The cross talk has grown bitter, mainly over Nader’s insistence that there’s no major difference between the two leading candidates. 

“If he can’t see the difference between Gore and Bush, it’s pretty pathetic,” said Toby Moffett, a former Democratic member of Congress from Connecticut and Nader colleague. 

Moffett and other former Nader associates have posted ads in college newspapers and done radio interviews to try to convert Nader votes into ones for Gore. 

Nader was urged to drop out in a letter by George Becker, president of the United Steelworkers of America, who described the longtime consumer activist and himself as “steadfast allies.” 

Any advances in workers’ rights, wages and turning back corporate influence in government would be reversed with a Bush victory, Becker said. 

“It would be tragically ironic if your dedication to principle should ultimately result in the further domination of our political process by the very forces of corporate greed that we have both worked so hard to restrain,” he said. 

Nader was hearing none of it. 

Attacking the vice president’s environmental record, he said Gore’s about-face on a waste incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio, was reason enough for environmental groups to rescind their endorsement of the Democrat. 

“Gore made the sensible decision to oppose the incinerator in 1992, promised that a test-burn permit would not be issued, and then turned around and told the Bush administration to issue the permit before he took office,” Nader said. 


“This is an unbelievable betrayal by Al Gore,” he said in Seattle, before heading to another campaign stop in Denver. 

Nader averages about 4 percent in national polls, but he gets more in close-race states where much of his support comes from voters who might otherwise back Gore. 

He’s been variously annoyed and amused by all the pressure on him from fellow liberals, Democrats and even a dozen former “Nader’s Raiders.” He argues that if Bush happens to win, that will spark a progressive movement that will serve their causes down the road. 

Ralph Neas, president of the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way, disputed that, saying in a letter that Bush could “turn back the clock for decades” by achieving a right-wing lock on the Supreme Court. 

The appeals by Gore supporters have had the unintended effect of raising Nader’s profile and boosting his fund-raising efforts. His campaign raised $155,000 in Web donations alone over the last two days; not bad considering it has raised only $7 million all year. 

“The focus on Nader in the last week of the campaign has helped us get his message out there in ways that it wasn’t getting out before,” said Nader spokesman Tom Adkins. “So I think all this is going to help us, to be honest with you.”