WASHINGTON: Once the darling of liberal grassroots activists, Ralph Nader has recently become one of their favorite targets as movements have sprung up around the country to stop the legendary consumer advocate from launching another Presidential campaign this year.
At their core, the movements are more about stopping President Bush from winning a second term than keeping Nader out of the White House. But those fueling the groundswell want to stop a repeat of the 2000 election, in which they feel Nader took enough votes from Al Gore to hand Bush the win.
"I agreed with Nader in 2000 that the two mainstream candidates were Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, but what's happened is that Tweedle Dum has become a global tyrant," said Jason Salzman, cofounder of RepentantNaderVoter.com. "We need to get rid of him."
The former Green Party candidate recently announced that he is considering a possible 2004 campaign as an independent. He subsequently launched a website seeking feedback from the public on whether he should run. Activists like Salzman are taking him up on that offer.
Salzman's site is one of several that allow users to e-mail Nader directly with their concerns. The site's viral e-mail campaign even got enough notice to earn a mention in the January 26 edition of Newsweek.
A similar group, Ralph Don't Run (RDR), was founded by former Media Map CEO and chairman John Pearce. Like Salzman's group, RDR has started a viral e-mail campaign asking supporters not to give money to Nader's exploratory committee.
The two have discussed combining their efforts should Nader actually launch a campaign. "If he becomes a candidate, we will have to figure out what we can legally do to keep this campaign going," said Salzman. "But we are pretty committed."
Other former Nader allies turned detractors include liberal magazine The Nation, which, late last month, ran an open letter to Nader asking him not to run.