- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 18, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Democrat John Kerry will meet today with independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, the longtime consumer advocate who is blamed by many Democrats for Al Gore’s loss in the 2000 election.

The two will meet this afternoon at Kerry campaign headquarters, according to two senior Democratic officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Reached late last night, Mr. Nader confirmed the meeting and said he looked forward to discussing “certain common policies” with the Massachusetts senator.

“I think that’s for the good of our country and for the benefit of the American people that are being ignored or repudiated by the Bush regime,” Mr. Nader said.

Mr. Nader said he doubted Mr. Kerry would ask him to withdraw from the race, and repeated his long-standing position that dropping out is not an option. Mr. Nader has pushed for a meeting with Mr. Kerry since he wrapped up the primary race about two months ago.

The Democratic sources said Kerry aides were working last night to determine what Mr. Nader hoped to gain from the meeting, but said there was no reason to believe he would follow calls from top Democrats to drop out.

The war in Iraq seemed to be one topic on the agenda of Mr. Nader, who has emerged in recent weeks as a staunch antiwar candidate, critical of both President Bush and Mr. Kerry for not setting out a plan to withdraw U.S. troops.

“You can’t have a discussion without talking about the war in Iraq,” he said.

Mr. Gore lost Florida — and the presidency — to Mr. Bush by fewer than 600 votes, while Mr. Nader garnered nearly 100,000 votes there as the Green Party’s nominee.

Democrats have almost universally urged Mr. Nader not to run again, saying his presence will only help Mr. Bush win re-election.

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