- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 5, 2004

Ralph Nader yesterday said he expects to be on as many presidential ballots this November as in 2000, when he made the cut in 43 states and the District of Columbia.

“We’ll be on at least as many ballots as we were last time, 43,” Mr. Nader said on “The Diane Rehm Show” on National Public Radio.

The Nader campaign has submitted ballot access petitions in 16 states, is engaged in litigation in three states regarding ballot access and expects the backing of the Reform Party to put the independent candidate on the ballots of another seven states.

“All the deadlines and the turning in of signatures occur in July, August, early September,” Mr. Nader said. “So all that will be resolved in the next two months.”

He said interference from Democrats is making it more difficult to access ballots.

Mr. Nader’s run has spooked Democrats nationwide, who fear he will draft votes from Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. In several states, party members have worked to keep him off the ballot. Liberal activist groups such as thenaderfactor.com have denounced the Nader campaign.

Another group called the United Progressives for Victory, which counts a number of former Nader acolytes among its leadership, has begun a campaign that will do business in the streets and on the Internet to diminish Mr. Nader’s candidacy.

Meanwhile, Republicans in several states have assisted in gathering signatures and in some cases donating money to the campaign.

“They’re not [supporting me] in any percentage,” Mr. Nader said. “We got almost 25 percent of our votes from Republicans last time. Less than 10 percent of our big donations have come from Republicans. We reject organized Republican assistance, not that it’s being offered very extensively.”

Mr. Nader has called on Mr. Kerry to diminish the groups, but the Democrat has refused — although he has not asked Mr. Nader to withdraw, as many others from the party have.

“I’ve talked to John Kerry about this and he said he didn’t know anything about it,” Mr. Nader said. “But the Democratic National Committee told me openly that they are encouraging these kind of ballot access challenges and I think many of them cross the line into dirty tricks. [Mr. Kerry] said he’d look into it, so we’re waiting for his judgment in that respect.”

Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese added later that “Kerry says he’s not worried about Ralph. So if he’s that confident, he should step in as commander in chief of his troops and tell them to back off.”

The Kerry campaign did not return calls.

Mr. Nader’s support from Republicans is the dirty trick, said Jano Cabrera, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee

“Yes, we do feel there are dirty tricks, specifically by the Republicans and their conservative allies,” Mr. Cabrera said.

“They are organizing and gathering financial support for Nader, not because they agree with him but because they know that Nader’s name on the ballot drains away support for John Kerry. We’ve repeatedly called on Ralph Nader to repudiate that Republican help but he continues to accept GOP support.”

In a poll released Wednesday by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, Mr. Kerry has the support of 45 percent of voters nationwide to President Bush’s 44 percent, while Mr. Nader has 3 percent.

“Nader is a factor in close states, where he could tip the state,” said Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist poll. “If he gets 3 or 4 percent in a close state, it makes a difference.”

Shortly after Mr. Nader announced his candidacy in February, Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, predicted the independent candidate would be able to make 50 state ballots.

“I’m not going to contradict his prediction,” Mr. Winger said. “And two-thirds of the states have access deadlines in August and September.”

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