Group run by Democrats says "right-wing Republicans" and "extremists" aid Nader to help Bush. Characterizations aside, they've got a point.
Thenaderfactor.com -- an anti-Nader group staffed by former Dean, Clark, and Gephardt campaigners -- released a new radio ad July 13 saying Nader is getting help from Republicans in three key states in hopes of stripping votes away from Kerry.
It says, "The same right-wing Republicans that are anti-choice and anti-environment are suddenly pro-Nader."
The ad's use of the terms "right wing" (which it uses six times) and "extremist" (used twice) are debatable, as is the term "anti-environment." But it is well documented that some Republican-leaning groups have worked for Nader, and that a few wealthy Republican donors have given money to the Nader campaign.
The radio ad is running in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon and Pennsylvania, all battleground states where Nader's impact on the election's outcome could be highest.
National Progress Fund
Announcer: Right-wing Republicans will do anything to stay in power. Remember Florida and the 2000 election? Well, the same right-wing Republicans that are anti-choice and anti-environment are suddenly pro-Nader!
Right-wing extremists are even trying to help Nader's campaign in Oregon, Wisconsin and, yes, Florida again! Even one of President Bush's friends and top donors, billionaire Dick Egan, gave money to Ralph Nader. And other Bush donors are pouring tens of thousands of dollars into Nader's campaign.
Why? Because the right wing knows that helping Ralph Nader helps George Bush. As one right-wing group says, quote, Nader could peel away a lot of support from Kerry. Let's give Nader what he wants and just watch what happens.
After all the good he's done, Ralph Nader's legacy could be reduced to four more years of George Bush. Mr. Nader, declare your independence from the right-wing extremists.
Visit TheNaderFactor.com. Paid for and authorized by The National Progress Fund and not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.
"Right-Wing Republicans" for Nader?
The ad says "right-wing extremists" are trying to help Nader's campaign in Oregon, Wisconsin and Florida. And it's true that conservative, Republican-leaning groups have publicly given support for Nader's bid for the Presidency.
In Oregon, Citizens for a Sound Economy gave a push to Nader's as-yet unsuccessful attempts to get on the ballot. According to a news release issued on June 27, CSE made telephone calls urging supporters to show up at a meeting for Nader in order to "drive a wedge through the Liberal Left’s base of support."
CSE Phone Script:Ralph Nader could peel away a lot of Kerry support in Oregon, but he has to be on the ballot first. . . . Poor Ralph Nader: He just wants to make the ballot here in Oregon. Let’s give him what he wants and just watch what happens in November!
The anti-Nader ad quotes parts of that news release as coming from a "right-wing group." The words are quoted accurately and in context, though the description of the group as "right-wing" is a matter of opinion.
Citizens for a Sound Economy is a nonprofit, tax-exempt group co-chaired by Dick Armey, the former Republican Majority Leader in the House, and C. Boyden Gray, former White House counsel to George H.W. Bush, the current President’s father. It describes itself as devoted to “free markets and limited government“ and claims thousands of local activists. It pushes to make Bush’s tax cuts permanent, cut federal spending, create private Social Security accounts, enact school vouchers and enact a “flat tax” in place of the current system of higher rates for higher incomes.
Another Oregon group, the Oregon Family Council, also said it made calls for Nader. Mike White, the group's director, told the Associated Press :
White: We aren't bashful about doing it. We are a conservative, pro-family organization, and Bush is our guy on virtually every issue.
That supports the ad's claim that Nader got help from "Republicans that are anti-choice." The Family Council describes itself as an "information service for Oregon Christians" and says its "Christian Voter's Guide" for 2002 helped thousands of Christians make "informed votes" that "produced more Pro-life/ Pro-family legislators than there have been in over 30 years!"
Bush Donors for Nader?
The ad says "one of President Bush's friends and top donors, billionaire Dick Egan, gave money to Ralph Nader." And Federal Election Commission records confirm that Richard J. Egan, a former ambassador to Ireland appointed by Bush, gave $2,000 to Nader's campaign on March 8.
Egan's son and daughter-in-law, John & Pamela Egan, later gave Nader $2,000 each on April 28, also according to FEC records.
The ad goes on to say "other Bush donors are pouring tens of thousands of dollars into Nader's campaign," which is true but just barely so. Out of the total of just over $1 million Nader had raised through the end of May, the San Francisco Chronicle reported July 10 that Nader had received a total of $23,000 from Republicans who had also donated to the Bush-Cheney campaign or other Republican causes. That is just enough to qualify as "tens" of thousands.
Wisconsin and Florida, Too?
The ad's claims that Republicans are working for Nader in Wisconsin and Florida also have substance. Citizens for a Sound Economy is planning to urge Wisconsin Republicans to sign petitions when Nader's signature drive begins next month, the New York Times reported July 1. "We'll definitely be spreading the word that we'd like to see Nader on the ballot," the Times quoted Cameron Sholty, CSE's Wisconsin state director. "We'll do phone trees and friends-of-friends, and those Nader events will be a great way to drive our membership to get out to sign petitions for Nader."
And in Florida, the Republican party posted a news release on its Web site supporting Nader's attempt to get onto the ballot and chastising Democrats for saying their lawyers would ensure that Nader's bid for ballot access adheres strictly to state law.
Under the headline "Let Ralph Run!" it quoted GOP state Chairman Carole Jean Jordan saying the Democratic maneuver is "beyond the bounds of hypocrisy."
"The Democrats are quick to use the issue of voter disenfranchisement to their benefit and yet have no problem unleashing their legal sharks on Ralph Nader," the Republican party chief said.
What Nader Says
Asked for comment on the new radio ad, Nader Spokesman Kevin Zeese called it,"Lots of nonsense" and said, "We've never had any dealings or contact with these groups. . . We've seen no evidence that they have been organizing or doing anything on behalf of us."
Nader himself has welcomed Republican support. The Hartford Courant quoted him July 4: "If they want to help us speak freely inside the electoral arena, that's fine."
Nader defended himself against an attack similar to that in the ad during a debate in Washington DC July 9 with former Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean, who described the Oregon Family Council as "anti-gay."
Nader: I think just what you said about that group, it was a legitimate smear. Do you know what a legitimate smear is, Howard? It's a smear premeditated and knowing.
We don't even know this group. Don't try to tar us with this. There have been groups that supported your campaign you wouldn't want to have breakfast with, even if you were starving.
Dean: Then just renounce them. That's all I ask.
Nader: Well, fine, I renounce them. You know what else to renounce. Do you renounce Pfizer and Chevron and other companies who were criminally convicted of crimes by the federal government, giving millions of dollars in the year 2000 to the Democrat Party, and they did not return the money? That's a matter of record.
Dean also attacked Nader for accepting donations from Egan, the Republican donor. Nader bristled:
Nader: He's an American citizen who might be -- is a Republican, just happens to believe in civil liberties maybe. I don't even know the man.
The Nader-Dean debate was sponsored by the National Public Radio program "Justice Talking," which is produced by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. FactCheck.org is also a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
Citizens for a Sound Economy, "Phone Script: Conservatives for Ralph Nader? Oregon CSE members push to get Nader on the ballot," news release, 27 June 2004.
Brad Cain, "Conservatives Seek to Help Nader - And Ultimately Bush," Associated Press, 25 June 2004.
Oregon Family Council, "Christian Voter's Guide," 18 May 2004.
Carla Marinucci, "Nader defends GOP cash; Candidate says he's keeping money," The San Francisco Chronicle , 10 July 2004: A1.
Michael Janofsky and Sarah Kershaw, "Odd Alliances Form to Get Nader on Ballot," New York Times, 1 July 2004.