Nader's "hotter than high school love"

The Green Party candidate moves out of the gates. Gore tries to clear the air as he ties up the race.

By Alicia Montgomery

Published June 26, 2000 3:06PM (EDT)

The Green Party sealed the deal with consumer advocate Ralph Nader, officially choosing him as its nominee for president during the group's Denver convention. "Election 2000 just got hotter than high school love," declared Nader booster Jim Hightower. According to the Denver Post, Nader told the audience that he's running to win, and dismissed the idea that his candidacy will eat into Al Gore's support and lead to a George W. Bush presidency. "Look, we want to win. We can't win by allowing Al Gore to win," Nader said in his two-hour acceptance speech. "Why don't you ask Al Gore, 'Aren't you concerned about defeating Ralph Nader?'" Nader filled his platform with traditional left-leaning causes -- such as labor-centered trade agreements, closing the income gap and ending corporate welfare -- which have been sidelined by Clinton-style "new" Democrats.

Though Nader's run could do for Greens what Pat Buchanan's candidacy was supposed to do for the Reform Party -- make them a solid political force nationally -- not all of the party's faithful are jumping on his bandwagon. Said "Autumn," a Green Party member from California, "We've got another white guy candidate running for president who's probably also never inhaled."

Will Reno ignore the advice?
Though a Justice Department investigator recommended that a special counsel be appointed to investigate Gore's fundraising during the 1996 campaign, Janet Reno gets the last word. And according to a Washington Post report, that word is likely be "no." Charles LaBella, a former Justice Department official who once urged Reno to appoint a special counsel in the matter, thinks that Reno will reject this advice again. Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," LaBella said: "Different set of facts, different prosecutor, but I think it's going to be the same result. I think she's going to come down the same way, because she's already reviewed this issue once." Jack Quinn, Gore's former chief of staff, hopes LaBella is right. Quinn says that another special counsel would pointlessly distract the nation from the upcoming presidential race. "I think it's important that we remember we are four months away from an important national election," Quinn said on ABC's "This Week." "This is not the moment when we should embark upon another seven-year-long, $50 million independent counsel investigation. The transcript is out there ... We ought to let the American people decide."

Ozone man returns
Reviving his reputation as an environmental crusader, the vice president plans to unveil a new policy aimed at clearing the air. The New York Times reports that Gore's proposal would create tax breaks for using Earth-friendly energy technology such as solar-powered homes and electric cars.

The plan comes after a week of bickering between the Bush and Gore camps over which party is to blame for skyrocketing gas prices. To those allied with the Republican, Gore's ideas are more proof that he's an Earth-first fanatic. Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett said that Gore is just blowing smoke with his clean-air plan. "After eight years of weak leadership on energy issues, Al Gore is proposing nothing new," Bartlett said. "One thing that is consistent is Al Gore's longtime support of higher gas prices." In the meantime, Democratic leaders are using the energy issue to accuse Bush of being bought by oil interests. "It seems to me what Mr. Bush and what the Republicans are saying and the oil companies are saying is that their answer to the crisis is to keep their profits up," said Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, a state that has been particularly hard hit by higher fuel prices. As for the price of Gore's plan, those numbers have yet to be released.

Bush-Gore gap gone
For several weeks, Gore has gotten nothing but bad news from the polls, but a Newsweek survey suggests that there's a tightening trend. Its results show a dead heat at 45 percent support for both major candidates, with 10 percent of voters remaining undecided. This is the first sign of a possible payoff of his "progress and prosperity" tour for Gore, who has endured weeks of lagging popular support. Last week, a poll showed Bush with a 12-point lead, and a Los Angeles Times survey conducted at roughly the same time showed Gore trailing 40 percent to 50 percent.

Court shreds "blanket" primaries
Third-party candidates like Nader may not get a shot at the big guns during primary season. The Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 to end "blanket" primaries, in which voters are allowed to participate regardless of party affiliation, the Associated Press reports. The high court agreed with foes of California's primary system, who said that open primaries violated their First Amendment right to free association. The open-primary system was largely credited for the early strength of Republican Sen. John McCain's candidacy.

Poll positions
Presidential race:

  • Bush 45 to Gore 45 (Newsweek June 22-23).
  • Bush 49 to Gore 41 (NBC/Wall Street Journal June 14-18).
  • Bush 49 to Gore 45 (CNN/Time June 14-15).
  • Bush 52 to Gore 40 ( June 11-13).
  • Bush 50 to Gore 40 (Los Angeles Times June 8-13).
  • Bush 47 to Gore 39 (Zogby June 9-12).
  • Bush 49 to Gore 45 (ABC News/Washington Post June 8-11).

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  • Alicia Montgomery

    Alicia Montgomery is an associate editor in Salon's Washington bureau.

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