Nader: I'm No Spoiler

Actors Amy Madigan, left, and her husband Ed Harris wave to photographers at the premiere of the film "Hollywoodland" at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Thursday, Sept. 7, 2006, in Beverly Hills, Calif.
As the office of president hangs in the balance a week after Election Day, Ralph Nader brushed off his role as the third-party candidate that may have cost Democratic Vice President Al Gore the presidency.

The Green Party candidate on Tuesday blamed the vice president for not inspiring more people to vote for him.

"There aren't many presidential candidates who can't carry their own state," he said.

Nader, who has been criticized in recent weeks for taking votes from Gore, showed no remorse.

"Third parties are considered relevant only if they tip the ballot," he said before speaking to hundreds gathered the University of St. Thomas about "the Corporatization of America."

The battle continued Tuesday between Gore and Republican George W. Bush over Florida's 25 electoral votes, reinforcing how important those Nader votes were.

Nader carried about 3 percent of the vote nationally, including 5 percent in Minnesota and 1 percent in Florida, the state likely to decide the presidential race.

Bush's lead dwindled to 300 votes Tuesday in unofficial returns in Florida after a week of recounts, hand counts and numerous legal challenges.

"Because of the closeness of the vote tally, I don't think it will ever be truly known who won Florida. ... It's going to probably be decided in the courts," Nader said.

The longtime consumer advocate said he opposed hand counts to determine a winner unless it were done in every county. Whatever method is used to determine a winner, it should be uniform, he said.

"I'd be against a hand count in four counties. ... It certainly calls for a change in the future," he said.

Despite the possibility of one presidential candidate receiving the popular vote and one receiving the electoral college vote, Nader said it was unlikely that the Electoral College would be abolished.

"The small states like the electoral college," he said, adding that "there's no period in our history that provoked the need to look at change like the last week."

Exit polls in many states suggested that at least half the Nader voters would have voted for Gore if it had been a two-way race. In some of those states, it was enough to throw the state to Bush.

Nader remained unapologetic, urging people to support a "viable third party" that would serve as a watchdog for Republicans and Democrats after Election Day.

"We're going into more of a lobbying mode," he said. "The Green Party has to play a watchdog role ... to hold the two parties' feet to the fire."

No matter who ultimately is named president, Nader said he isn't likely to get much done because of the closeness of the race and the makeup of Congress.

"There's not going to be anything bold ... accomplished in the next four years," he said.

Nader's long-shot campaign emphasized his criticism of big business and the two-party political system. He has long insisted that no major diferences exist between the Democrats and the Republicans - or their presidential candidates.

"The presidential elections are too much about horse races and not enough about serious proposals," he said.

He said it was too early to say whether he would run again in 2004.

"The Green Party effort this year, which will build to thousands of state, local and federal candidates in the year 2002, will spell the end of the two-party grip on our political system," he said.

He said he disagreed with the notion that the Green Party should build itself from the bottom up.

"I don't buy this start at one end or the other," he said. "We should start at all ends."

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