Camejo, Gonzalez Defend Nader’s Run

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — Vice presidential candidate Peter Camejo and San Francisco Supervisor Matt Gonzalez defended the independent presidential candidacy of consumer advocate Ralph Nader at a news conference in San Francisco Tuesday morning.

A list of 131 Green Party leaders nationwide who support Nader was distributed at a news conference at the Commonwealth Club.

As Nader’s running mate, Camejo addressed criticism that Nader has taken on the role of a potential spoiler and accused Democrats of interfering with free elections by trying to impede Nader’s campaign.

“No one owns the voters,” he said. “The voters will decide how they vote.”

Camejo also attacked Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s stance on issues including the Iraq war and the U.S. Patriot Act and wondered aloud how true Bush foes could vote for Kerry, who Camejo said has given President George W. Bush numerous standing ovations.

Many voters who agree with the Nader/Camejo platform are voting for Kerry out of pragmatism, he said. “People do not vote for what they’re for, they vote against a person.”

Gonzalez said Democrats’ anger toward Nader has been misdirected and questioned the assumption that most Nader supporters would vote for Kerry if Nader were not in the running.

“Look, I want to remind people the facts are overwhelming,” Gonzalez said. “Seven million Democrats voted for Bush in the 2000 election.”

Instead of attacking the Nader/Camejo campaign, Gonzalez said, voters should focus on changing a system that is dominated by only two political parties.

“How can we be angry at men who step forward and say, ‘I have different views?”‘ Gonzalez asked.

Nader has come under additional fire because of indications that some Republicans are contributing to his campaign in order to increase the chances of Bush winning.

Conservative lobbying group Citizens for a Sound Economy recently encouraged its Oregon members to sign Nader’s petition to get on the ballot in that state. According to a CSE news release posted on the organization’s Web site, CSE conducted a phone outreach effort, alerting conservatives of the “opportunity we have to drive a wedge through the Liberal Left’s base of support.”

Camejo Tuesday said that the Nader campaign does not seek out donations from Bush supporters and that any explicit attempt to donate money for the purpose of defeating Kerry will be refused.

“What we will not do is every time someone sends us a donation to attach a lie detector to them,” Camejo said.

The distributed list of Green Party Nader supporters includes Gonzalez; Kevin McKeown, mayor pro-tem of Santa Monica; Jason West, mayor of New Paltz, N.Y., and Gloria Mattera, co-chair of the Green Party of New York.

(Copyright 2004, Bay City News. All rights reserved.)