Published on Sunday, September 3, 2000 in the Boston Globe
Toby Moffett: An Old Hand For Greens Shifts Allegiance To Gore
by Andre Vasquez
WASHINGTON - While former representative Toby Moffett of Connecticut once fought for the ideals held by Ralph Nader, the Green Party presidential candidate, he is now working toward a different goal: preventing Nader from drawing votes from Al Gore.
Moffett, who cofounded the Connecticut Citizen Action Group with Nader in the 1970s and became a staunch advocate for the environment and other causes that Nader espouses, last month formed a committee made up of 10 former Nader co-workers to campaign against the Green Party nominee.
While a long shot in the race, Moffett said, Nader complicates Gore's task of defeating Republican candidate George W. Bush in states with large numbers of undecided voters. He said his group is acting independently, without prompting from the Gore camp.
''All this is not an attack on Nader. It's clear that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush,'' said Moffett, adding that even Nader concedes that point.
Moffett, 56, has been in the political arena since 1969, when he was an aide to then-Senator Walter F. Mondale, a Minnesota Democrat. He served four terms in the House, where he became an environmental and consumer rights advocate, before an unsuccessful bid for the US Senate in 1982.
Moffett also lost an attempt at a Connecticut House seat in 1990. He has since been a television news anchor, and is now a Washington consultant to corporations and accounting firms.
Moffett's daily routine now consists of interviews by radio and television stations across the country, especially from some key states where Nader could make a difference - Illinois, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
Oregon is the state where Nader had his best showing, 4 percent, at the expense of President Clinton in the 1996 election. Nationally, Nader has claimed less than 5 percent in recent polls.
Moffett said Nader would like to see the Democratic Party lose the election in order to force a shift back toward the left. ''Nader has become reckless,'' said Moffett. ''He's basically saying there's no difference between Gore and Bush.''
Howie Hawkins, a Green Party coordinating member, said Moffett's turnaround is predictable. ''It's obvious the Democrats picked him because of his previous association with Nader,'' Hawkins said. ''As the country has shifted to the right, a lot of intellectuals and activists have decided to go with the money. Just look at the Democratic leadership.''
Alan DiCara, an activist who worked with Nader and Moffett through the Connecticut citizens group in the 1970s, said he was disappointed in Moffett.
''Toby is looking out for Toby,'' DiCara said. ''I am dismayed, but I am not surprised. That's the way Toby is.''
A spokesperson for the Gore campaign said Moffett was doing ''informal work'' for Gore, but did not elaborate.
Democrats ''must be afraid,'' said Nancy Allen of the Association of State Green Parties in Maine. ''This kind of effort is going to backfire. Independent voters will see it as another reason to vote for Nader.''
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