- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2000

PHILADELPHIA — Unlike Vice President Gore, Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader has been watching the Republican National Convention, and has a lot to say about it.
"George W. Bush is really a conglomerate corporation running for president, disguised as a person," Mr. Nader told a handful of reporters at the National Youth Convention yesterday.
"The Republican National Convention is a political orgy that has reached new depths of cravenness," he added.
In addition to speaking to the youth convention, Mr. Nader also stopped by the Shadow Convention, which touted itself as addressing issues the main conventions wouldn't.
Mr. Nader, the consumer advocate turned outsider political hero to those who believe both major political parties are controlled by business interests, didn't just stop at the conventions, though.
"Both [parties] are hijacking our democracy and selling it to the highest bidder and turning our government against its own people. And I hope the people in this country who watch this spectacle will see it for what it is — a charade that is going to resound to the disadvantage of the majority these people and enrich the few at the top," Mr. Nader said.
As for the kinder, gentler George W. Bush, Mr. Nader wasn't buying it.
"He hasn't yet made his speech, but it's pretty predictable. It's going to be full of sweet talk, and not backed by the reality of his own performance in Texas as governor," Mr. Nader said.
Mr. Nader was impressed with retired Army Gen. Colin Powell, whom he said "delivered the greatest rebuke this year to the Republican Party when he stood up in front of the nation and said 'we know you say you're for children, but you should be for children every day, not every four years.' He refused to be used."
But the other keynote speaker, Sen. John McCain, left him disappointed.
"I think the real John McCain has come forward — the John McCain of his Senate record, which is overwhelmingly pro-corporate. He had a nice fling in the primaries, where we thought he was a new John McCain, coming off his criticism of tobacco and his support of campaign finance reform. But the way he marched along behind George W. Bush, who he despises for everything he stands for, is one of the great disappointments of this convention," Mr. Nader said.
Mr. Nader said he has spent only about $1 million on a campaign that, in some polls, shows him with 8 percent support.
Next week he'll spend $500,000 to roll out ads arguing for his inclusion in fall debates. The ads will air in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Ore., and possibly other markets where he being received well.
One group he hopes to attract is organized labor.
Republican leaders, including GOP National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson, met with International Brotherhood of Teamsters president James P. Hoffa earlier this week, and are hoping for an endorsement or, at the very least, for the union not to endorse anyone.
Mr. Nader has also had talks with the Teamsters and he, too, thinks there's a chance they won't endorse anyone. That, he said, helps him the most.
"Just by not endorsing anyone, the signal to the rank and file is they ought to support the presidential candidate who has stood for labor for 40 years, in reality, day after day," Mr. Nader said. He pointed to his support for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and his oppositon to parts of the North American Free Trade Agreement, like letting "undermaintained Mexican trucks" on American highways — both positions labor unions also hold.
"I think the Teamster rank and file is going to come out for me," he said.
That and Mr. Nader's climbing polls in critical states could leave him in the role of spoiler for the vice president. But that doesn't bother him much.
"You can't spoil a corrupt, spoiled system. What you can do is establish a strong beachhead for a significant third party as a minimum to build on the next round toward majoritarian status," he said.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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