- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2000

LOS ANGELES Ralph Nader won't attend the Democratic National Convention this week, but he'll still be impossible for party officials to ignore.
The Green Party presidential candidate and venerable consumer advocate plans to stay close to home this week to prepare for an extensive West Coast tour on the heels of the convention. The campaign swing starts Aug. 21 with a fund-raiser here at the House of Blues, said Nader 2000 spokeswoman Laura Jones.
That doesn't mean the Green Party plans to kick back and relax while the Democrats nominate Al Gore as their presidential candidate. The Greens marched yesterday from the Santa Monica Promenade to the beach in support of Mr. Nader and Medea Benjamin, the California party's nominee for the U.S. Senate. Party members are also slated to participate in today's "Human Need Not Corporate Greed" rally at the Staples Center, site of the Democratic convention.
Even if Mr. Gore never sees the flood of green "Nader 2000" T-shirts at those events, he and other Democratic leaders are undoubtedly paying close attention to the Green presidential candidate's solid performance in California political surveys. A poll released last week by the Public Policy Institute of California found Mr. Nader weighing in with 8 percent of the vote.
Mr. Gore led his Republican opponent, George W. Bush, by a too-close-for-comfort 40 percent to 37 percent. Activists with the California Green Party said Mr. Nader's percentage stretches to as much as 12 percent in some liberal communities in northern and central California.
The numbers are troubling to Democrats because Mr. Gore's hopes for capturing the White House hinge on him winning California and its 52 electoral votes. And while the selection of Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman as the vice-presidential nominee was seen as a strategy to lure centrists and Reagan Democrats to the ticket, politicos say it could backfire by pushing the party's liberal wing into the Green camp.
"We see it [the Lieberman pick] as the waving of the last white flag in the surrender of the Democratic Party to the centrist, corporate agenda," said Miss Jones. "It's a final acknowledgment of the abandonment of the progressive base."
Mr. Nader made an unexpected appearance at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, prompting speculation that he might try to upstage the Democrats. Miss Jones said his Republican cameo occurred by accident, when a radio reporter invited him for an interview at the convention following a speech he made at a Philadelphia youth conference.
During an interview with television personality John McLaughlin that aired yesterday, Mr. Nader said he wasn't concerned about speculation that his candidacy might hand the Republicans the White House by pulling votes from Mr. Gore. He blasted both the Democrats and the Republicans for being "the corporate party," adding that the Democrats have failed to live up to their legacy of giving power to "workers, consumers and voters and taxpayers."
He also continued to press for an invitation to the televised presidential debates. "How many people do you want to fall asleep at this at the TV set?" he quipped.
Jordan Elias contributed to this report.

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