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Nader Urged To Yield Field to Gore

By Eun-Kyung Kim, Associated Press,
2 November 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) - Friends are now foes. Environmentalists, organized labor, gays and abortion-rights groups - liberals and Democrats who once admired Ralph Nader's tenacity as a consumer crusader - are now dedicated to stopping him from hurting Al Gore.

Attacks against the Green Party presidential candidate are mounting from those once closely aligned with his progressive views but now angered by his refusal to step aside in closely contested states where a vote for Nader could mean a victory for Republican George W. Bush.

"I have seen acts of betrayal I just can't believe," Nader said Wednesday in Madison, Wis.

He admonished the Democratic "dirty tricks" used to undermine his candidacy, saying they were led by "desperate surrogates of the Gore campaign."

Among those growing list of agents: The Sierra Club, The League of Conservation Voters, United Steelworkers of America, The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, AFSCME, the National Organization for Women, and the Human Rights Campaign. The groups join at least 20 Democratic senators and congressmen, and other progressives, who have been stumping for Gore.

The cross talk has grown bitter, mainly over Nader's insistence that there's no major difference between the major-party candidates, Bush and Gore.

"That's absurd. Ludicrous," said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organization.

Cook said he publicly and repeatedly has criticized President Clinton and Vice President Gore on numerous issues "and they deserved it." But a Bush administration would bring "excruciating consequences" for the public interest community, he said in a letter to Nader.

"Virtually everything the environmental community has achieved over the past thirty years could be at stake," Cook wrote.

Nader was urged to drop out of the race in another letter sent Wednesday by George Becker, president of the United Steelworkers of America.

While referring to themselves as "steadfast allies," Becker warned Nader against continuing to claim few differences between Bush and Gore.

Any advances made in workers rights, achieving a living wage or eliminating corporate influence in government would be reversed if Bush wins the election, Becker said.

"It would be tragically ironic if your dedication to principle should ultimately result in the further domination of our political process by the very forces of corporate greed that we have both worked so hard to restrain," he said.

Women's groups also are unhappy with Nader, a longtime supporter of abortion rights. At a news conference Wednesday, female Democratic lawmakers and abortion rights activists criticized him for implying over the weekend that a Supreme Court reversal of its landmark abortion ruling might not mean forfeiting a woman's right to choose.

"Even if Roe v. Wade is reversed, that doesn't end it," he said on ABC's "This Week." "It just reverts it back to the states."

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., called the comment "reckless and irresponsible," arguing that legislators and governors in 16 states are "chomping at the bit to outlaw abortion, to enact more restrictions, or make access even less private and more dangerous."

And Planned Parenthood director Gloria Feldt said Nader "just doesn't seem to care" about women's rights.

But Nader defended his record on abortion rights as better than many Democrats, who helped confirm the nominations of Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, considered the two staunchest conservatives on the bench.

"It's the Democrats that sent Scalia and Thomas to the Supreme Court, and in a total reversal of the historical record, NARAL tried to indicate that I want more Scalias and Thomases on the Supreme Court," Nader said.

Overall, Nader remains dismissive - and sometimes amused - by the appeals for him to drop out. Even pleas by former colleagues, including a dozen so-called Nader's Raiders for Gore, fail to sway him. And he remains defiant to calls urging him to back Gore.

In Wisconsin, he allowed that he believes the vice president is a bit better than Bush - Nader offered grades of D-minus to Bush and D-plus to Gore.

If Gore loses, Nader said, "it would be clear he beat himself."

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