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Independent Candidate Ralph Nader Runs For President - 2004-02-24


Consumer advocate Ralph Nader says he is running for president of the United States as an independent candidate.

Ralph Nader got only two-point-seven-percent of the vote in the last presidential election. But some Democrats think he drew just enough support from their ranks to cost Al Gore a victory.

Democratic Party leaders tried to convince Mr. Nader to stay out of the race this year. But the longtime consumer advocate told the NBC television program Meet the Press he feels compelled to try again.

Mr. Nader said,"I have decided to run as an independent candidate for president."

He said he is seeking the presidency because he believes large corporate entities in the United States have too much power, and the two main political parties - the Republicans and the Democrats - are doing little to stop them.

Mr. Nader said,"Washington is corporate-occupied territory. And the two parties are ferociously competing to see who is going to go to the White House and take orders from their corporate paymasters."

Mr. Nader said he expects to draw some votes from both parties. But in 2000, most of his support came from the Democrats. Party leaders still cite the results in Florida, where Ralph Nader got more than 97-thousand votes. Al Gore lost the state - and the election - to George W. Bush by 537 bitterly contested ballots.

During an appearance on CBS television's Face the Nation, party chairman Terry McAuliffe called word of a 2004 Nader candidacy unfortunate. He noted that even the Green Party has urged Mr. Nader to sit this election out.

Mr. McAuliffe said,"He has had a whole distinguished career fighting for working families and I would hate to see part of his legacy be that he got us eight years of George Bush."

Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespe was also interviewed on Face the Nation. He seemed less concerned about the new Nader campaign.

Mr. Gillespe said,"The fact is that if Ralph Nader runs, President Bush is going to be re-elected. And if Ralph Nader does not run, President Bush is going to be re-elected."

Although American presidential politics remains dominated by the two large parties, third-party candidates have played an increasing role in recent years.

Before Ralph Nader launched his first race for the White House, headlines were being made by Texas businessman Ross Perot. He ran twice in the 1990's and got 19-percent of the vote in 1992.

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