- The Washington Times - Friday, February 20, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ralph Nader, the candidate many Democrats blame for Al Gore’s loss in 2000, will announce tomorrow whether he will make another bid for the White House, with all signs pointing to the consumer advocate joining the race as an independent.

If Mr. Nader decides to run, his late start, lack of party affiliation — he won’t be on the Green Party ticket this time — and the challenge of getting his name on ballots in 50 states weigh against his candidacy.

So does the palpable anger among many Democrats after nearly four years of a Republican in the White House.

Calling Mr. Nader “egomaniacal,” veteran Democratic strategist Dane Strother said the independent would “have the same impact he had last time. He would hand the presidency to George Bush.”

Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said he met with Mr. Nader several times urging him not to run because he could pull votes from the Democratic nominee.

“I don’t want Ralph Nader’s legacy that he got George Bush for eight years in this country,” Mr. McAuliffe said on CNN. “I’m urging everybody to talk to Ralph Nader. I’d love him to take a role with our party, to energize people, to get out there and get the message out.”

After weeks of postponing his decision, Mr. Nader will appear on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to make the announcement, said Linda Schade, a spokeswoman for Mr. Nader’s presidential exploratory committee.

The prominent staging of his announcement, following months of active fund raising, suggests Mr. Nader, who turns 70 next week, is ready to take his progressive agenda directly to the voters, despite Democratic grumblings that he would only be helping President Bush secure another term.

As the Green Party’s nominee in 2000, Mr. Nader appeared on the ballot in 43 states and the District, garnering only 2.7 percent of the vote. But in Florida and New Hampshire, Mr. Bush won such narrow victories that had Mr. Gore received the bulk of Mr. Nader’s votes in those states, he would have won the general election.

Mr. Nader shrugs off the spoiler moniker, saying a large portion of his supporters would not have voted at all and some would have gone for Mr. Bush.

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