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Defiant Nader defends run for White House

WASHINGTON - Admittedly being shunned by old friends on Capitol Hill who see him as a spoiler in the Nov. 7 presidential election, a defiant Ralph Nader remains unrepentant and committed to his crusade to build a third party.

He wore an air of studied indifference about the outcome or about potential loss of support for his consumer and environmental causes in Congress.

In Florida, where Mr. Bush continued to lead narrowly as overseas absentee ballots were counted yesterday, Mr. Nader got 87,000 votes.

Many of those presumably, according to exit polls, would have gone to Mr. Gore.

In New Hampshire, where Mr. Bush won by 7,282 votes, Mr. Nader received 22,000 votes.

Mr. Nader said the “cold feet factor” prevented him from getting the 5 per cent of the popular vote he fought for in order to get federal matching funds for the Green Party in 2004.

People who told pollsters they planned to vote for Mr. Nader went back to their traditional voting patterns inside the voting booth, he said.

Nonetheless, he said his Green Party is the “fastest growing third party” movement and that it has three or four elections cycles to prove itself.

Mr. Nader admittedly was hurt by some of the harsh press releases on Capitol Hill from once-friendly legislators who say they will no longer associate with him. One open letter denouncing Mr. Nader from Rep. John Conyers, Jr., (D., Mich.) was especially painful, Mr. Nader admitted, saying the two men had worked together for 30 years. “I would never do that to a friend,” Mr. Nader said with pain and bitterness.

Mr. Nader accused Mr. Conyers of lying about Mr. Nader's record on civil rights.

Former Clinton strategist James Carville, a former admirer of Mr. Nader, said on the NBC's Meet the Press, “I will not speak his name. I'll just call him an egomaniac. And if he ever walks into a room that I'm in, I'm just going to quietly walk out. If he walks up to me, I'm going to turn my back on him, I'm going shun him.”

Mr. Nader said he is used to being shunned even by Democrats when he goes to Capitol Hill to testify about an abuse or problem “they don't want to hear about.” He said he is tired of legislators complaining they can't do anything to change the system.

Mr. Nader said he also is tired of the “horse race” nature of the election and angry the media always asked him about being a “spoiler” and did “features” on him but did not take his issues seriously enough.

He said he will remain true to his “longer range” perspective that the “true” battle is against corporate power over Americans' lives, global warming, child poverty, and inadequate family incomes, “not the differences between Bush and Gore.”

Mr. Nader says that 47 per cent of Americans don't make over $10 an hour, which he calls outrageous, arguing that most families in America don't have any assets after their liabilities are subtracted.

“I don't see a great economy,” he scoffed.

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