AR-News: (US)Candidate Nader

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Sat Feb 21 10:38:56 EST 2004

[from Mother Jones]

He may be the most intensely private man ever to seek public office. What
makes Ralph run?
Ralph Nader on a campaign swing? This is the man who in 1996 spent less
than $5,000 on his presidential bid, and who wouldn't even allow the Green
Party to use his name for fundraising. This year, Nader vows things will
be different. "Last time I stood for president," he says. "This time I'm
running." Since he announced his candidacy, Nader has hired full-time
campaign workers, pledged to raise $5 million, and hit the road to stump
in all 50 states before the Green Party held its convention in June.
"He's demonstrated that each citizen can have an impact and change the
government," says Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio who has known
Nader for 25 years. "He's had more of an impact on institutions of
government and corporate life than many people who have held public office."
Not all of the hurdles faced by Nader are external to the campaign. So
far, the Green Party has not demonstrated much ability to reach beyond its
core constituency. Nader's audiences are often overwhelmingly white and
disproportionately filled with practitioners of decidedly alternative
lifestyles. At campaign events, tables are invariably stuffed with
literature on animal liberation and vegan nutrition, issues that are
unlikely to play in Peoria.

On the March swing, an oppressive air of virtue and clean living hung over
many campaign events. At the Whole Earth Center in Princeton, for
instance, the crowd gathered among shelves laden with whole-wheat spinach
pies, organic soy-nut crunchies, and unsulphured, unsweetened pineapple
rings. At many events, not a drop of booze, not even a beer, was
available. The puritanism comes from Nader as well as the Greens. A
vegetarian, he has been acutely health conscious, especially since his
brother Shafeek died of cancer in 1986. At the office, Nader employees who
grab lunch at McDonald's have been known to eat their food on the sly,
careful not to let the boss catch them with a Big Mac. 

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