Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader says he wants to see an end to what he calls a two-party "dictatorship" in American politics. The liberal, pro-consumer activist acknowledges he has little hope of winning, but says he is campaigning to highlight issues he feels the two big parties are not addressing.
Ralph Nader told a Washington newsconference he and his vice-presidential running mate Peter Camejo are campaigning for the so-called "little guy," everyday workers without much political influence.
"We understand we're the underdog candidate," he said. "We also understand that we represent, and have represented, and give voice to, tens-of-millions of American underdogs, who are pushed around, underpaid, denied health care, often harmed, excluded, ignored, disrespected, cheated, while they go about doing the daily work of the nation, without which, the nation would come to a standstill."
Mr. Nader, who is an independent candidate, says he is also running in an effort to shake up the American political system, which relies on two main parties, the Democrats and the Republicans.
"We're doing this in order to break up a corrupt-to-the-core, two-party electoral dictatorship that demands that the voters belong to them, that they're entitled to the votes, that they don't have to earn them in a competitive race," he added.
Mr. Nader says he thinks both political parties have been looking out for their own interests, at the expense of the American people.
"Again and again, the necessities of the American people are shoved aside by the trivial, mawkish, sordid, rancid nature of campaigning, between the Republican and Democratic parties," explained Mr. Nader.
The consumer advocate acknowledges he has accepted money from Republicans, but sought to refute allegations that he has accepted large sums of money from Republican organizations.
"Our donations come to the level of four percent, in the last reporting process, from individual Republican donations, many of them classmates, people I've worked with over the years," he said.
Democrats have accused Republicans of contributing money to the Nader campaign as part of efforts to undermine Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry's chances in his bid to unseat President Bush, the Republican candidate. Republicans deny the charges.
In the 2000 presidential election, Mr. Nader got nearly three million votes as the Green Party candidate. Democrats say they believe most of those votes would have gone to their candidate, Al Gore, and that Mr. Nader's candidacy may have cost Mr. Gore the presidency. Several prominent Democrats have sought to persuade Mr. Nader to withdraw from the race, because they fear a similar scenario in this election.
Meanwhile, this year, Mr. Nader's name is officially on ballots in only 35 of the 50 U.S. states.