- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 24, 2008

NEWSMAKER INTERVIEW:

Ralph Nader said Democratic leaders are so angry about the 2000 election that they have since deprived him from giving congressional testimony, preventing him from speaking on issues he’s championed for decades. He suggests that they stop scapegoating him and face their own failings.

Mr. Nader, embarking on another third-party bid for the White House, gave several examples of his attempts to testify on President Bush’s nominees, civil liberties and auto safety, the issue that began his career as a consumer advocate.

“I used to be the most frequent person there,” he told The Washington Times on Monday in an extensive interview from his office in Georgetown.


“They are so small-minded that to keep the myth up that it wasn’t them that got Bush in the White House, it was Nader/LaDuke - to keep that myth and sustain it in the public’s mind, they can’t possibly associate with me or have me testify. Even though they knew they blew it in 1,000 ways in ‘00 and ‘04.”

Mr. Nader said some Democrats, such as Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Henry A. Waxman, still see him, but that a “spite mentality” prevents them from asking him to testify.

He blamed a Democratic “cult” that has sprouted around the charge that he cost Vice President Al Gore the 2000 presidential election and said that, as a result, Democrats deprive their voters of a voice they would want to hear.

“If somebody that strong is worried about that peer group pressure, it tells you something,” he said.

Mr. Nader said he repeatedly asked Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas to testify at a hearing earlier this month on car-roof safety in rollover crashes (“I know a little bit about this subject”) but was turned down and offered the opportunity to submit a statement instead. He said it’s been at least seven years since he testified - which coincides with the aftermath of his 2000 presidential run.

Pryor spokesman Michael Teague denied the account, saying: “We have no information or knowledge that he ever contacted anybody in our office or Senator Pryor to testify.”

Mr. Nader also said he wanted to testify against Mr. Bush’s nomination of John Ashcroft as attorney general and the Supreme Court nominees Samuel A. Alito Jr. and John G. Roberts Jr.

“On the Roberts thing, I called everybody,” he said, adding that the list included longtime colleagues such as Ralph G. Neas, who was president of People for the American Way and helped spearhead opposition to Mr. Roberts’ confirmation as chief justice. Mr. Nader said that despite 45 calls to Mr. Neas and other chief opponents, he didn’t get a single call back.

Mr. Nader said the Democratic grudge has become so strong that he has established better relationships with congressional Republicans who agree with him about preventing waste and fraud in government contracts and fighting corporate subsidies. He quickly added, “It’s not my choice.”

“I almost never connected with Republicans. Things have gotten so bad that I now sign letters with Grover Norquist,” he said, referring to the Republican anti-tax icon.

He also has been reaching out to supporters of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the antiwar libertarian who recently ended his bid for the Republican presidential nomination after attracting money, attention and young voters.

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