Published on Thursday, October 26, 2000 by the Associated Press
Nader Calls Gore 'Cowardly'
by John Affleck
CLEVELAND Ralph Nader said Thursday that a "cowardly" Al Gore was sending surrogates to criticize his Green Party campaign out of concern that it could threaten Gore in several states on Election Day.
Nader also said Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, asked him if he would be interested in meeting privately with the vice president. He said he responded, "No, not at all."
With roughly 5 percent of the vote in national polls, Nader is no threat to win any state in the presidential election. But some Democrats fear that if even a few percent of voters support Nader instead of Gore in some closely fought states, those states and the election could swing to Republican George W. Bush.
Meanwhile, an ABC News poll said that more than half of Nader's supporters indicate they might change their minds before Election Day. Among his supporters, more than half say Gore is their second choice, a fourth would go for Bush and the rest would stay home.
Nader addressed the election situation at a news conference before two campaign appearances Thursday. He gave a speech in the morning to a city forum about his work as a consumer advocate, and later spoke to roughly 1,000 supporters at Cleveland State University.
According to Nader, Conyers called him within the past several days and was "very worried about the swing states."
Conyers didn't ask Nader to withdraw. "He was trying to make the best of it in many ways, trying to get progressives together on the same page," Nader said.
A telephone message seeking Conyers' comment was left at the lawmaker's office. The Gore campaign had no immediate comment.
Nader said the attention his party is receiving from the Democrats will just make it stronger. He criticized Gore for enlisting big names such as Jesse Jackson and Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota to stump for him.
"Al Gore, in his typically cowardly way, is sending out surrogates, most of them progressive Democrats who he has not supported, to criticize our campaign," Nader said. "This is typical of Gore. He has a serious character deficiency. If he wants to challenge me, he should challenge me directly."
Outside Nader's appearance at Cleveland State, people from several groups passed out literature urging voters to vote for Democrat Gore rather than Nader to keep Republican Bush out of the White House.
But Nader said the two parties are "morphing into one corporate party with two heads wearing different makeup," and a vote for him was preferable.
© Copyright 2000 The Associated Press