Challenge From The Left

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In recent years, Republican candidates have been the ones swatting at ideological gadflies. This year, Ralph Nader hopes to put political heat on Al Gore from the left end of the political spectrum.

The consumer advocate and Green Party candidate for president promised a "more serious campaign" than four years ago with plans to raise at least $5 million and visit all 50 states.

"We'll build a political force. We're going to give people a choice," Nader said Sunday before appearing at a Green Party rally about two blocks from the Governor's Mansion of Republican candidate George W. Bush.

Nader ran on the Green Party ticket in 1996 and received less than 1 percent of the vote. He spent less than $5,000 personally financing his campaign. On Sunday, he pledged to work harder as a candidate and expects to be on the ballot in at least 45 states.

Voters want an alternative to the Democratic and Republican candidates, Nader said.

"We think the two parties are pretty rotten to the core," he said. "I didn't really campaign (in 1996). This time, it will be a serious campaign."

Nader's campaign will press for campaign finance overhaul, environmental protection, workers' rights and trade-law changes. Nader says corporate influence controls government and promises to put more power in the hands of the people.

Nader said he expects to raise at least $5 million and will accept federal matching funds. Bush, meanwhile, has raised more than $70 million and already spent more than $50 million. Vice President Al Gore can spend up to $40.5 million through the Democratic convention in August and already has spent more than half that total.

"We'll get more for our buck," Nader said. "There are a lot of people out there who haven't voted for those candidates. Maybe we'll get some of them."