Ralph Nader

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Biography

Ralph Nader is a consumer rights advocate and U.S. presidential candidate. In 1971, he founded the non-profit Public Citizen organization. In 1996 and 2000, he ran with Winona LaDuke on the Green Party ticket and in 2004 with Peter Miguel Camejo as an independentin some states and as the nominee of the Reform Party in others.

Nader's platform of a living wage, universal health care, an end to corporate influence on elections, and opposition to international trade agreements such earned him his greatest support in 2000, when Michael Moore, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and others worked as members of his 'citizen's committee.' However, despite name recognition and majority public support for his inclusion in the presidential debates, Nader failed to achieve the minimum criteria for inclusion established in 1992 by the Committee on Presidential Debates and was blocked out of those debates in all three of his presidential campaigns.

Nader's 2.8 million votes in 2000 earned him the ire of many Democrats who accused him of costing Al Gore the election. Specifically, many Democrats thought that, had Nader not been on the ballot, more than enough of his 97000 votes in Florida would have gone to Gore to overcome Bush's controversial 538-vote margin in the state. Consequently, in 2004, many people including Demoncrats and former Nader-supporters such as Michael Moore urged him not to run. John Kerry met with him personally in an effort to persuade him not to run. His former running mate, Winona LaDuke, herself endorsed John Kerry.

When the Green Party chose to pass him over in favor of David Cobb as its 2004 presidential nominee, Nader chose to mount an independent/Reform Party campaign. He sought to gain ballot access as an independent candidate via petition drives in some states while at the same time gaining access in other states as the nominee of the Reform Party (which had nominated Pat Buchanan in 2000). He unsuccessfully attempted to persuade the California state Green Party organizations to break from the national party in order to support him. In states where Nader launched petition drives, Democrats aggressively challenged his efforts, successfully excluding him from the ballot in crucial swing states such as Ohio and Oregon. Republicans in Florida, however, used extra-legal means to bend rules to ensure he would be indeed be listed as a presidential candidate on the ballot in that state. In the end, Nader was on the ballot in 34 states and the District of Columbia and garnered a mere half-million votes nationwide, but this was not enough to prevent George W. Bush from defeating John Kerry.

Nader is the author of many books, including Unsafe At Any Speed, which details car companies' resistance to safety features in their vehicles, and Crashing The Party, about his 2000 run for President.

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