Video: Nader explains

updated 2/23/2004 12:49:33 PM ET 2004-02-23T17:49:33

Ralph Nader acknowledged Monday that it will be difficult to get his name on the ballot in all 50 states in his independent bid for the presidency.

Nader, whom Democrats blame for costing Democrat Al Gore the election in 2000, lacks major party support or resources for his candidacy that has riled the Democratic Party. Unlikely to get the Green Party nomination, he faces an uphill battle to get on the ballot, which requires money and signatures.

The first target is Texas, where Nader needs 65,000 signatures in a 60-day period from voters who are not participating in the Democratic or Republican primaries.

“It won’t be easy,” Nader told reporters at a news conference.

As an independent candidate, Nader won’t be eligible for up to about $18.6 million in government funding for the primary season, Federal Election Commission spokesman Bob Biersack said. And his failure to capture 5 percent of the vote in 2000 — he got 2.7 percent — also prevents him from receiving taxpayer funding in the general election.

Nevertheless, Nader said he won’t back off from his latest campaign for the White House even if the major candidates are tied in polls going into Election Day, a scenario that led many friends and former supporters to urge him not to run again.

Video: Joining the fray A possible repeat of the 2000 election, which ended with George W. Bush defeating Gore by razor-thin margins in states where Nader polled thousands of votes, did not deter the consumer advocate from declaring his candidacy Sunday. He suggested a close race might be more detrimental to the president than the Democratic nominee.

Democrats are 'too cautious'
“I’d go after Bush even more vigorously as we are in the next few months in ways that the Democrats can’t possibly do because they’re too cautious and too unimaginative, but they can pick up the vulnerabilities and the failures of the Bush administration that we point out,” Nader said Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Nader rejects the spoiler label as a “contemptuous” term used by those who want to deny voters a choice. Declaring Washington a “corporate-occupied territory,” he accuses both Democrats and Republicans of being dominated by corporate lobbyists who care little about the needs of ordinary Americans.


“We’ve got to give people more voices and choices,” Nader told ABC. “And let me tell you, with 100 million people not voting, we’ve got to give them more voices, choices, more exciting involvement and participation so they’re not just spectators watching candidates parade in front of them with emotional slogans.”

But even old friends like liberal Vermont Rep. Bernie Sanders, the only independent in the House, called Nader’s decision “counterproductive,” predicting “virtually the entire progressive movement is not going to be supportive of Nader.”

Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, who personally urged Nader not to run, called the decision “unfortunate.”

“You know, he’s had a whole distinguished career, fighting for working families, and I would hate to see part of his legacy being that he got us eight years of George Bush,” McAuliffe said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Ballot access experts say an independent needs a total of about 700,000 signatures to get on the ballot in all 50 states, a prospect Nader likened to “climbing a cliff with a slippery rope.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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