Nader Plays Down Green Party Rebuff
By David Finkel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 28, 2004; Page A06
A day after not getting the Green Party's endorsement for president, Ralph Nader brushed off the rejection as an inconvenience, described the party as "strange," called the party's national nominating convention "a cabal" and predicted who the big loser in its decision not to endorse him would be.
"The benefit was really for the Green Party," Nader said yesterday of what an endorsement of him would have meant. "I don't want to exaggerate it, so I'll just say massively more."
Endorsing him, Nader said, would have meant higher visibility and better fundraising opportunities for the party. Because of his vice presidential running mate, Peter Miguel Camejo, it also had the potential to attract Latino voters.
Instead, by nominating Texas attorney David Cobb, Nader said, the party that made him its candidate in 1996 and 2000 will "shrink in its dimension" and "has jettisoned [itself] out of any influence on the Democratic Party."
Long before the nominating convention convened in Milwaukee over the weekend, Nader had made clear he did not want to be the party nominee for a third time because he is trying to expand his appeal. His hope was that the party would end up nominating no one and would instead endorse him, which would have helped get his name on ballots in 22 states and the District where the Green Party has secured space for a name.
Now that space will go to Cobb, leaving Nader the task of getting his name on those ballots one state at a time, a time-consuming and potentially expensive effort, particularly when Democrats have suggested they would be scrutinizing Nader's every attempt and would not be shy about filing legal challenges.
Nonetheless, Nader played down the effects of not getting the endorsement as he headed toward Washington state, where 20 volunteers with signs reading "Does your candidate support gay marriage?" were hoping to secure enough signatures at a gay pride parade to put Nader on that state's ballot. "Most of them are modestly easy to get onto," he said of the bulk of the Green Party states.
He also questioned Cobb's pledge to campaign for local and state Green candidates in all 50 states but to avoid campaigning for himself in any state where polls show a close race between President Bush and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.). Nader, who received almost 3 percent of the votes in the 2000 election, has been criticized by some Democrats as having cost Al Gore the election; Cobb's strategy suggests the Green Party does not want to be cast again as a spoiler.
Nader, however, said he will avoid no state, and his campaign spokesman Kevin Zeese said he expects Nader's name to be on ballots in nearly all of the states.
"If you're trying to build a political movement, you don't turn your backs on people who happen to live in so-called close states," Nader said. "Our plan is to get as many votes nationally as possible.
"We're campaigning all-out."
As for the Green Party, he said, "I wish them well."
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
David Cobb won the Green Party presidential nomination Saturday. Ralph Nader hoped the Greens would nominate no one and back his candidacy.
(Morry Gash -- AP)