Ralph Nader makes campaign stop at UVM

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(Host) Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader says he’s the only real anti-war candidate in this year’s race. Appearing at the University of Vermont last night, Nader said both President Bush and Democratic candidate John Kerry support continued U.S. involvement in Iraq. Nader, who is on the ballot in Vermont, also strongly rejected the argument that he could be a spoiler in the election.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Nader came to Vermont as part of a tour of New England states. The consumer activist is vilified by many Democrats who feel his role in the 2000 election may have cost Vice President Al Gore several key states.

But Nader said at a news conference that his candidacy presents a clear choice between Republicans and Democrats. He says he would quickly pull U.S. troops out of Iraq. And he says Democrat John Kerry has committed himself to the war in order to win votes.

(Nader) “Kerry’s a war monger. Kerry supported and voted for the Patriot Act, the worst assault on civil liberties in America in its history. Kerry supports a bloated military budget that’s draining billions of dollars from the necessities for men, women and children in this country. Kerry talks big about eliminating corporate subsidies but he hasn’t lifted a finger after I met with him and gave him 10 boondoggles that he knows about, subsidizing the big drug companies and big energy companies. Kerry is part of the problem.”

(Dillon) To a student who worries that a vote for Nader could help Bush, Nader had this to say:

(Nader) “So if that student wants to vote for Kerry, he should make demands on Kerry. Second, he’s too young to start voting for candidates he doesn’t believe in because they’re not quite as bad as the other candidates of the major party. Because once he starts that he becomes a captive of the least-worst attitude that drags him and others like him down into supporting a declining political system that is pulling down our country.”

(Dillon) Nader absolutely rejects the charge that his candidacy would hurt Democrats this fall.

(Nader) “I don’t like the idea of third parties being viewed as second class citizens. Either we all try to get votes from one another and therefore we’re either all spoilers of one another, or none of us are spoilers. To talk about a progressive candidate with 40 years of achievement for the American people as a spoiler of a rotten spoiled political system is a contradiction in terms.”

(Dillon) Nader acknowledged that he has no chance of winning, but says he’s running because political change in this country has only occurred through outside third parties.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Burlington.

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