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From meisenscher@igc.org Sun Sep 3 07:36:09 2000
Date: Sat, 2 Sep 2000 00:08:52 -0500 (CDT)
From: Michael Eisenscher <meisenscher@igc.org>
Subject: Nader Criticizes Corp. Misdeeds
Organization: ?
Article: 104031
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
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Crisscrossing Manhattan, Nader Criticizes Corporate Misdeeds

By Jayson Blair, The New York Times,
1 September 2000

Ralph Nader, running for president as the Green Party nominee, railed against big business from the heart of corporate America yesterday, crisscrossing Manhattan to condemn environmental pollution, the exploitation of workers and the abuse of taxpayer dollars through "corporate welfare." He also dismissed his opponents, Vice President Al Gore and Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, as candidates whose similarities (favoring businesses over workers, in Mr. Nader's view, and taking millions from corporate donors) outweighed their differences.

Mr. Nader, the consumer advocate whose long-shot candidacy has received comparatively little national media attention, began his salvos from a prominent platform: a morning interview with Matt Lauer on NBC's "Today" show.

"They are different in a few areas, but the rhetoric is more different than the reality," Mr. Nader said of Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore on "Today," as about 300 people milled about on a Rockefeller Center sidewalk outside the studio. Some held signs demanding that the major candidates open the presidential debates to Mr. Nader and one of the Reform Party candidates, Patrick J. Buchanan. Two men made the point by wearing chicken suits to represent Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore.

After "Today," Mr. Nader gave a separate interview on NBC's cable cousin, MSNBC, then crossed the street to the headquarters of the network's corporate parent, General Electric, where he criticized the company for polluting the Hudson River.

He also attacked Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush for taking contributions from the company.

"It is time for General Electric to obey the law and pay for its poisoning of the Hudson River and stop lying and deceiving the public about the dangers," Mr. Nader said, referring to G.E.'s legal discharge of PCB's into the Hudson until 1977, when the chemicals were banned by the federal government.

He called for Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore to give back the money their campaigns had received from General Electric.

>From there, Mr. Nader went to the Bowery, where he protested with union workers at the New Silver Palace Restaurant, a 900-seat dim sum parlor and banquet hall that once was the only unionized restaurant in Chinatown. Former employees have waged a three-year battle with the restaurant's management, which has been accused by federal labor officials of antiunion hiring practices.

Mr. Nader finished his campaign day on Wall Street, where he criticized the City and State of New York for offering multimillion-dollar tax breaks and other incentives to persuade companies like the New York Stock Exchange to stay in Manhattan.

"Here is this bastion of global capitalism on welfare," Mr. Nader said, after taking a private tour of the New York Stock Exchange. "It will take hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in order to build them a new building. At the same time, hundreds of neighborhoods are suffering from inadequate funding of their vital needs."

Mr. Nader said that such "corporate welfare" was emblematic of the problems of America's current two-party political system. Mr. Nader's candidacy is widely seen less as an attempt to capture the White House in November than an effort to influence the public debate.

At various points since announcing his candidacy, it appeared as if Mr. Nader could garner a high enough percentage of the vote -- mostly from Mr. Gore -- in several important states, including California and Michigan, to push Mr. Bush ahead.

But recent polls have suggested that Mr. Nader's moment appears to be fading, given Mr. Gore's surge in the polls after the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

For example, a Field poll released last week showed that Mr. Nader was supported by 4 percent of California voters, compared with 7 percent in a similar survey in June.

Mr. Nader's swing through New York City yesterday followed a series of fund-raisers and appearances on the East End of Long Island on Wednesday. Earlier in the week, he and his running mate, Winona LaDuke, staged a boisterous rally in Portland, Ore., that drew more than 10,000 people.

At his Manhattan appearances, Mr. Nader was trailed by small but loyal bands of supporters: college and high school students, environmentalists and those who said they were concerned about the influence of large corporations.

"I don't care how much of a threat he is to Bush and Gore," said David Joseph, 33, a graduate student in French at Hunter College, outside the NBC studios yesterday morning. "I want to see something new, something fresh in the debates."

Steve Rogovin, 59, of River Vale, N.J., who moved off the steps of a building for Mr. Nader's Wall Street news conference, said he would probably not vote for Mr. Nader, but was happy to see him in the race.

"He is man for the people," Mr. Rogovin said. "I don't believe he will get elected or get a chance to debate the two power brokers. Think, he would act as devil's advocate."

That is why, Mr. Rogovin said, he answered, "By all means" when Mr. Nader asked if he could use the steps.

Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company

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