Don’t go for lesser of two evils


Associated Press

SEATTLE – Green Party candidate Ralph Nader urged supporters Thursday to resist the argument that a vote for him is a vote for Republican George W. Bush.

“They’re going around the country trying to salvage Al Gore’s campaign,” Nader told a crowd of about 1,000 at a midday rally. “Don’t go for the lesser of two evils, because at the end of the day, you end up with evil.”

Washington state is one of several states where Democrats fear Nader will draw enough votes from Gore to hand Bush a victory.

The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, NARAL, is running ads here and in four other states urging potential Nader supporters to vote for Gore instead. Meanwhile, the Republican Party is running ads that feature Nader criticizing Gore.

An independent Evans/McDonough poll of 500 registered Washington voters released Thursday found Gore supported by 41 percent, Bush by 41 percent, and Nader by 5 percent. The margin of error was 4 percentage points.

Nader resists any suggestion that his candidacy could benefit Bush.

“If Al Gore loses the election to the bumbling governor from Texas, it’s Al Gore’s responsibility,” he said.

Nader said his aim is to build the Green Party, not to win the presidency. He draws a straight line from his presidential campaign to the coalition of labor and environmentalists who protested the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle last year.

“The Seattle spirit is still here,” he declared as he took the stage Thursday. “See what we all started here? It’s going right across the country.”

In his hour-long speech, Nader said Gore and Bush are more alike than different on such issues as civil rights, abortion and the environment.

The crowd cheered often and loudly. But some harbored doubts.

“I am planning on voting for Nader – but I must admit, with some trepidation,” said Denby Barnett, 54, of Seattle. “I am very concerned about the possibility of George Bush becoming the next president, being able to appoint federal judges and Supreme Court judges.”

Barnett wasn’t totally sure he’d vote for Nader.

“The prospect of voting for the lesser of two evils is unappealing,” he said. “On the other hand, for the Republicans to have complete, unfettered control of the federal government is terrifying.”

Others in the audience wholeheartedly bought into Nader’s contention that building the Green Party matters more than whether Gore or Bush is elected president.

“Winning is a funny thing,” said Ela Brickson, 48, of Port Townsend. “There’s a grass-roots movement happening. We are winning even if he doesn’t win the presidency. We’re paving the way for the next president.”

Brickson sported a homemade hat with the motto, “I’m no Nader Fader,” and helped pass money-collection pots around the audience.

“I’d rather have Gore than Bush,” she said.

But Brickson said she can also see a benefit if Bush wins: “If we have four years of Republican hell, our movement will get even stronger. It might be better.”

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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