Nader’s announcement brought immediate criticism from Democrats, who believe he may draw supporters who would otherwise vote for the Democratic nominee.
Nader said in appearances on Sunday and Monday that the Democratic and Republican parties are controlled by corporate influences and do not serve the interests of ordinary Americans.
“The lack of substantive response from both the [Democratic National Committee] and the [Republican National Committee] to important subjects and necessities facing Americans reinforced the need for an alternative choice to the two major parties in the presidential race,” Nader said in a statement on his Web site. “The two-party duopoly has demonstrated again that they will not engage in a simple discussion of the issues about the future direction of key policies that will shape the nation.”
Some Democrats blame Nader for siphoning crucial votes from Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in 2000, when Nader ran for president as the Green Party’s candidate.
“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,” DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe said on CBS Sunday.
For his part Nader has said that the Democratic Party, besides being controlled by corporations, is weak and ineffective at winning elections.
“The Democratic Party has been losing and losing at the federal and state level for the past decade to ever more extremist and cruel Republicans who should be landslided by the majority of Americans regularly harmed by their policies. For many of the cruelest ones, the Democrats offer neither challenging candidates nor deep scrutiny,” Nader wrote in a Feb. 21 open letter to McAuliffe. “Following the same approaches will not work to reverse this tide. New energies and bold strategies, inside the party and parallel to it are needed.”
Democratic leaders nationwide have attacked Nader for entering the race.
Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico reportedly said Nader’s candidacy is “a total act of ego.”
Iowa’s Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack said, “People who voted for him the last time recognize they made a mistake, and they won’t do it again.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton, a Democratic presidential candidate, said he will mount “a national crusade to stop Nader. This is only going to help Bush.”
Nader said Monday that the “spoiler” label slapped on him by some Democrats is “contemptuous,” and has pledged to remain undaunted by criticism from both parties.
“We’ve got to give people more voices and choices,” Nader said on 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.”
The Democratic Party has said that Nader has pledged to avoid attacking Democratic presidential candidates, but Nader said Monday that if Democrats attacked him he would respond.
Nader will face an uphill battle trying to get his name on the presidential election ballots in all 50 states. He will reportedly need more than 700,000 signatures, and he must meet a myriad of individual state requirements.