GOP Group To Air Pro-Nader TV Ads
By Laura Meckler
Associated Press Writer
Friday, Oct. 27, 2000; 11:59 a.m. EDT WASHINGTON Hoping to boost Ralph Nader in states where he is threatening to hurt Al Gore, a Republican group is launching TV ads featuring Nader attacking the vice president.
The ads by the Republican Leadership Council will begin airing Monday in Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington, all states that are part of Gore's base and where Nader is polling well. The group plans to spend more than $100,000 at first and hopes to raise more over the weekend.
While the ads boost Nader, they are a clear attempt to help Bush.
Gore's supporters fear that Nader, who is more liberal than either Bush or Gore, will throw the election to the Texas governor if voters who might otherwise vote for Gore vote for Nader instead. In a tight national race, one or two states could make the difference in who is elected president.
The ads feature clips of Nader from a National Press Club speech on Tuesday, where he laid into both Bush and Gore, though the ad only includes his criticism of Gore.
"Al Gore is suffering from election year delusion if he thinks his record on the environment is anything to be proud of," Nader says. An announcer interjects: "What's Al Gore's real record?" Nader says: "Eight years of principles betrayed and promises broken."
Nader has been equally critical, if not more so, of Bush, calling him "a big corporation running for president disguised as a person." But the RLC ads are a clear attempt to help Bush, not Nader.
A Gore spokesman suggested that the ads may backfire. "Voters are going to ask why these shadowy groups are running attack ads on behalf of George Bush," said Doug Hattaway.
He added that there are stark differences between Bush and Gore on abortion and the environment, and "people who are thinking about voting for Nader care deeply about those issues and would not want to see them put at risk by George Bush."
Nader, running a low-budget campaign, is not airing any television commercials of his own and it's possible that the RLC will end up spending more on pro-Nader media that Nader himself.
A spokeswoman for the Green Party nominee said that his campaign had no control over what other organizations do with Nader's speeches.
"The tactics of the other two parties are not our concern," said spokeswoman Laura Jones.
Asked if the campaign welcomed the outside help, she added: "Not really because they (the ads) are misleading in that they don't indicate that we are campaigning against Al Gore and George W. Bush."
Nader has had to repeatedly defend himself against people arguing that his candidacy will help Bush. He has responded that it makes little difference whether Bush or Gore is elected and has said he is running to give voters an alternative.
"We're building a progressive political movement. That's the most important thing," Nader said Friday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "Whether Gore or Bush gets into the White House doesn't mean that much, because the permanent corporate government in Washington is really determining policy."
The Republican Leadership Council, a centrist GOP group, has been helpful to Bush before, airing ads during the Republican primaries critical of challenger Steve Forbes. Several members of the RLC board were early Bush supporters.
The RLC ads will run initially in four markets: Eugene and Portland, Ore.; Madison, Wis., and Seattle.
Mark Miller, the group's executive director, said the ads are partly a response to commercials being run by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, which argue that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush.
"Ralph Nader doesn't believe that," Miller said. "Ralph Nader and his supporters are not backing down because they believe Al Gore has had numerous broken promises."
Miller added that some of Nader's supporters have bragged that Nader has never had help from "soft money," the unrestricted donations used by parties and interest groups.
"We'll put an end to that," Miller said.
© Copyright 2000 The Associated Press