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Reactions to Nader are mixed

Tuesday, February 24, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:15 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Some love it. Some hate it. But Ralph Nader’s independent candidacy for president is real, and voters will have to deal with it.

Four years ago, Nader suffered a barrage of criticism and was accused of taking vital votes from Democrat Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. While he’s running as an independent and not as the Green Party nominee this time, the question remains the same: Will Nader undermine the Democratic effort to claim the White House?

Avid Nader supporter Rocket Kirchner of Columbia disagrees with the idea that Nader will draw votes only from Democrats.

“Nader will get votes from Greens, Dean supporters, Libertarians and disgruntled Republicans,” Kirchner said. “He’ll pull in support from all over the place.”

Former Green Party candidate Jeff Barrow, who ran for Congress in 1992, agreed.

“I think that Nader will get votes from both sides of the spectrum. Lots of people would rather vote for a yellow dog than Bush, because now Bush has a record,” said Barrow, borrowing a traditional saying from local Democrats. “So I think both Democrats and Republicans could vote for (Nader).”

Looking in hindsight at the 2000 election, in which he voted for Nader, Jeffrey Fuller of Columbia has decided he won’t do so again.

“I liked what he had to say,” Fuller said of Nader’s 2000 campaign. “And I thought that Al Gore would win, so it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if I voted for Nader. This year, there’s just too much risk involved.”

Downplayed

Local Republican elected officials could not be reached for comment, but Angela Landers, vice president of the Mizzou College Republicans, said Nader’s candidacy won’t make much difference.

“I think that if people are voting for Nader, they might as well be voting for Bush,” Landers said. “I really don’t think it’s going to change much.”

Charles Christy, chairman of the Boone County Democratic Central Committee, begs to differ.

“I wish he hadn’t,” Christy said of Nader’s decision to run. “I think that more than half of the votes that Nader gets will be from Democrats.”

Kerry in control

Nevertheless, Christy said Democratic front-runner John Kerry is a solid candidate who will keep most local Democrats from straying.

“It appears that Kerry is strong enough,” Christy said. “Everyone I know is going to stick with the Democrats. I guess now I’m just hoping.”

Kirchner said that letting Nader participate in the televised debates with George Bush and the Democratic candidate is key.

“Last election, Nader was kept out of the debates when he had every right by law to be there,” Kirchner said. “The Citizens Debate Commission is suing the Presidential Debate Committee to get third parties into the debates. If Nader gets into a debate with Bush, he’ll mop the floor with him.”


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