Nader stumps in Nevada; predicts he will qualify for ballots in 50 states

RENO, Nev. - Consumer advocate Ralph Nader brought his Green Party presidential campaign to Nevada on Monday, predicting he will qualify for the November ballot in all 50 states.

Nader said that though the Reform Party shows divisions, the Green Party is ''growing quite readily'' as an alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties - ''which is really one party with two heads wearing make-up.

''We're going to be on every state's ballot,'' Nader told about 100 who turned out at the student union at the University of Nevada, Reno.

''This is going to be a four-party race in November,'' he said.

The progressive Green Party, founded in 1996, shares Thomas Jefferson's and James Madison's view of government as ''a public check against the excesses of monied interests,'' Nader said.

The abolitionist, trade union, environmental and consumer movements all have targeted the same evil - ''excessive concentration of power and wealth,'' he said.

Nader said too many working Americans have been left behind in the booming economy.

''Although we have growing corporate profits and stock market prices, the Department of Labor says the majority of workers - when adjusted for inflation - are making less than they did 20 years ago,'' he said.

The net worth of Microsoft's Bill Gates is equal to the assets of the poorest 120 million Americans combined, he said.

Nader ran for president under the Green Party banner in 1996, receiving less than 1 percent of the vote nationally. His best showing was in California, where he collected 237,016 votes, or 2.37 percent.

Nader, who must gather 3,700 signatures by July 7 to make the ballot in Nevada, acknowledged that building a new party is not easy.

''But it's been done before. It can be done again,'' Nader said.

''In 1854, a new party started - the Republican Party. It was anti-slavery and pro-women's rights,'' he said.

Nevada is the eighth state Nader has visited on the campaign trail. He plans to visit all 50.

''I went to Delaware and Delaware has fewer voters,'' he said, explaining his stop in Nevada.

Nader said the Green Party offers those opposing a nuclear waste site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada a national network of allies.

About gambling, Nader said he's most critical of state lotteries because they collect a disproportionate amount of money from low-income people.

''A society that is ridden with massive amounts of gambling is a society in decay. I prefer a society that builds the future rather than bets on the future,'' Nader said.

''But people have other tastes and other desires. As long as we live in a constitutional government system, they have a right to engage in it,'' he said.

Nader said Republican George W. Bush should welcome him as a participant in presidential debates with Vice President Al Gore not only as a strategy to divide liberal votes but also to help mask Bush's poor debating skills.

''If you aspire to the presidency, you should be able to speak without a teleprompter and without cue cards for more than 15 seconds.''


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