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From ab758@virgin.vip.vi Wed Nov 1 10:13:04 2000
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 22:45:28 -0600 (CST)
From: Mark Graffis <ab758@virgin.vip.vi>
Subject: Nader Painted as Spoiler by Mainstream Green Groups
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Article: 108154
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Environment [25]ENS -- Environment News Service

Nader Painted as Spoiler by Mainstream Green Groups

By Brian Hansen, ENS
30 October 2000

WASHINGTON, DC, October 30, 2000 (ENS) - The Sierra Club has lashed back at Green Party Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader, who last week attacked mainstream environmental groups for what he called their "servile mentality" in supporting the "lesser of two evils" in this year's presidential race.

In a letter, Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope chastised Nader for criticizing the environmental record of Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic Party's Presidential nominee. Gore, who received the Sierra Club' s endorsement earlier this year, is locked in a dead heat with the Republican Party's candidate, Texas Governor George W. Bush.

Nader, a veteran consumer advocate and long time environmental activist, has been relentless in his criticism of Gore. Nader has charged that Gore would no better protect the environment as President than would Bush. The Green Party candidate has referred to Bush as "nothing more than a big corporation running for President disguised as a person."

In a letter drafted last week, Nader reminded the Sierra Club and other mainstream environmental groups that Gore actively worked to support many initiatives that they themselves lobbied to defeat, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Gore also failed to side with environmental groups on a host of other issues, such as stricter regulations for pesticides and genetically modified foods, Nader noted.

"In the meantime these same environmental groups urge their members to vote for Gore either because he writes and speaks their language or because he is the lesser of two evils compared with George Bush," Nader wrote in his letter to the groups.

Nader's letter evoked a sharp response from the Sierra Club's Pope, who has worked with the veteran consumer advocate for some 30 years.

"Neither the letter nor the tactics you are increasingly advocating in your [Presidential] candidacy are worthy of the Ralph Nader I knew," Pope wrote.

Pope, like many observers, is concerned that Nader's candidacy will help to elect Bush by drawing votes from environmentally conscious voters who would otherwise vote for Gore.

The Sierra Club director was particularly incensed by a comment that Nader made earlier in the campaign, in which the Green Party candidate said that a Bush victory would be a "cold shower" for the Democratic Party.

"What will your 'cold shower' mean for real people and real places?" Pope asked Nader in his letter. "What will it mean for the tens of millions of asthmatic children when Bush applies to the nation the 'voluntary' approach he's been using in Texas to clean the air. And what about his stated opposition to enforcing environmental standards against corporations?"

Pope went on to outline a host of environmental ills that he feared would result from a Bush victory - a victory that he feels Nader is making more likely.

He chided Nader for misrepresenting Gore's environmental record, telling Nader that his candidacy was "divorced" from the "real world choices that face Americans."

Pope also accused Nader of breaking his own campaign promises.

"You pledged you would not campaign as a spoiler and would avoid the swing states," Pope wrote. "Your recent campaign rhetoric and campaign schedule make it clear that you have broken this pledge."

While polls indicate that Nader's support is hovering below five percent nationally, the Green Party candidate is garnering upwards of ten percent of the vote in states such as Oregon and California. High profile Democratic Party officials, fearful that Nader's candidacy will tip those states and the election to Bush, have launched an all out effort to try and neutralize Nader's insurgent campaign.

The Democratic Party's Vice Presidential nominee, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday and warned voters about the consequences of voting for Nader.

"I ask those who are thinking about voting for Ralph Nader to decide how they feel - how George Bush feels - about protecting the environment, protecting consumers, protecting a woman's right to choose - because all of those may well be in jeopardy if George Bush is elected president," Lieberman said.

Nader, appearing on ABC's "This Week," countered that Gore will have no one to blame but himself if he loses the election to Bush.

"If Gore can't beat the bumbling Texas governor with that horrific record, what good is he?" Nader asked. "Good heavens ... this should be a slam dunk."

"Do you think Al Gore is entitled to our votes?" Nader added. "Do you think Bush is entitled? Am I entitled to any votes? We have to earn them."

However, that message does not seem to be registering with a host of environmental and gay rights groups, which have kicked off a five state tour designed to reel in disillusioned Democrats and other disaffected voters who might mark their ballots for Nader instead of Bush.

At a rally in Seattle on Sunday, folk singer Melissa Ethridge, Earth Day co-founder Denis Hayes and a host of other dignitaries warned the crowd of the consequences of a Bush presidency.

"We appeal to Nader voters across the nation to reconsider their vote," said Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest organization of gay men and lesbians.

Birch said that there is a "Grand Canyon" of differences between Gore and Bush, the major party presidential candidates.

"From the environment to a woman's right to choose to basic civil rights, we believe that great harm, in fact severe harm, will come with a Bush presidency," Birch said.

Nader has also rejected the argument that a Gore Presidency ensure that abortion rights would be are protected, noting that two of the most "anti-choice" Supreme Court justices were confirmed during the Clinton/Gore Administration.

Nader is scheduled to campaign Tuesday in Michigan and Minnesota, where he will appear with Governor Jesse Ventura on ABC's "Nightline." Green Party members hope that Nader will get a boost from Ventura, who in 1998 defied all predictions by winning Minnesota's statehouse as a third party candidate on the Reform Party ticket.

"Governor Ventura is an example of how third-party candidates can win," said Nader spokeswoman Stacy Malkan.

However, as of Monday, Ventura had not endorsed Nader - or any candidate - for President.

Meanwhile, Nader on Monday decried the so-called "Nader Trader" plan that has been widely discussed on the Internet. Under the plan, Nader supporters in key battleground states would agree to vote for Gore if a Gore supporter in an uncontested state would agree to vote for Nader.

The strategy is designed to ensure that the Green Party receives five percent of the vote - the threshold for receiving federal matching funds - without throwing the election to Bush.

"Stay out of commercializing this kind of vote," Nader said. "Vote your conscience. Vote your dreams. Vote your interests. Don't vote your fears. Historically, justice in the world has gone to the pioneers who do just that."

35. http://ens.lycos.com/

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