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Swift Boat Donors Float Nader Some Money

By Brian Faler
Thursday, October 7, 2004; Page A07

Swift Boat Veterans for Nader? A handful of donors to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, an organization that has run controversial ads attacking Democrat John F. Kerry, have also given money to independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

Five donors, who contributed a total of $13,500 to the anti-Kerry group, also gave $7,500 to the longtime consumer advocate. That has infuriated some Democrats, who complain that Nader is taking money from supporters of not only a Republican group, but also one he has repeatedly denounced. In August, at a speech at Tulane University, Nader called the group "proxies" for the Bush campaign, which, he said, was attempting to "smear" the Democratic nominee.

"If Nader wishes to have any credibility left with progressives, he must give back all right-wing money," said Robert Brandon, co-founder of anti-Nader United Progressives for Victory, which unearthed the contributions.

The Nader camp rejected suggestions that it was hypocritical of him to accept the money -- and said the donations were evidence of its candidate's ability to appeal to voters from across the political spectrum. "Twenty-five percent of our voters are people who voted for Bush. I'm not surprised there's some overlap in funding, as well," said spokesman Kevin Zeese. "If they support us, they support us," he said. "We can still criticize their advertising campaign."

Trying to Get Everybody Into Spinning

Spinning: It's not just for pols anymore.

Both President Bush and John F. Kerry's campaigns fired-off e-mails to their supporters Tuesday, urging them to help spin this week's vice presidential debate.

"If we plan to win the election, we must fight back against their spin and make sure our friends and neighbors get the truth," Bush Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman wrote -- pretty much the same thing the Kerry camp was telling its supporters. Both campaigns urged their people to flood Web polls on the debate, write letters to newspaper editors and call talk-radio shows touting their candidate's performance. The goal? To win the battle of perceptions of who won the debate or, barring that, exceeded expectations.

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee was targeting voters who may not be on the candidates' e-mail lists. The party bought debate-themed ads on a number of newspaper Web sites that, when clicked, take viewers to a site echoing the increasingly familiar message. "Your 10 minutes of activism following the debate can make the difference," it said.

Green Party Hopeful Plans Protest

Look for a little civil disobedience at the next presidential debate.

Green Party presidential nominee David Cobb -- who, like the rest of the third-party contenders, has been barred from the event -- announced yesterday that he plans to protest their exclusion at the debate tomorrow in St. Louis.

"These so-called debates are an insult to democracy and the American people and, as a representative of the fastest-growing political party in this country, I have an obligation to try and open them up to more voices," Cobb said.

His campaign said he is prepared to be arrested.

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