Strange bedfellows: GOP aids Nader in Oregon

Two conservative groups phoned people around Oregon last week, urging them to attend Ralph Nader’s convention Saturday in hopes of putting Nader’s name on Oregon’s presidential ballot.

The groups make no bones about their goal: drawing votes away from Democrat John Kerry and helping President Bush win Oregon in November.

“We disagree with Ralph Nader’s politics, but we’d love to see him make the ballot,” said Russ Walker of Citizens for a Sound Economy, a group best known for its opposition to tax increases.

The Oregon Family Council also has been working the phones to boost attendance at Nader’s event — with the idea that it could help Bush in the fall.

“We aren’t bashful about doing it,” said Mike White, the group’s director. “We are a conservative, pro-family organization, and Bush is our guy on virtually every issue.”

Nader drew more than 1,100 people to Saturday’s convention, but there were doubts about whether the gathering would produce enough valid signatures to qualify him for the Nov. 2 election.

In April, only 741 showed up to a similar convention. Nader placed some of the blame on supporters tuning in the NCAA basketball championship game, which occurred the same night, rather than attend the rally.

The move by the Republican-leaning groups to boost attendance at Nader’s mini-convention is legal.

The leader of Nader’s Oregon campaign, Greg Kafoury, said that he has had no contact with the two conservative groups that have called people this week.

If Nader qualifies for Oregon’s ballot, polls suggest that he could be a factor in whether Kerry or Bush wins the swing state’s seven electoral votes in November.