Four years ago, Republican officials and activists in certain swing states helped gather signatures to gain ballot access for Nader, while several major Republican donors sent generous checks to his campaign. And no Republican spoke out more forthrightly on his behalf than McCain, who in 2004 urged the authorities in Florida to put Nader on the ballot there despite his failure to qualify--and who sent his own lawyer down to the Sunshine State to fight for Nader in court.The evidence of this political collusion, Conason writes, is substantiated in part by Nader’s focus on attacking Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but restraining his criticism of the cranky, elderly, “liberal Republican,” and hypocritical McCain. Read the whole column here.
McCain launched that intervention from his perch as chairman of the Reform Institute, a Washington think tank funded by corporate soft money and liberal foundations and staffed by McCain staffers and partisans. On the surface, at least, the Arizona senator was pursuing a principled defense of open ballot access, and he recalled how establishment Republicans had used legal technicalities to block him from the New York primary ballot in 2000. He sent Trevor Potter, a prominent attorney and former Federal Election Commission member who has long represented him, to assist the Nader forces in Tallahassee. It was an inspiring story of shared democratic values that crossed the ideological spectrum.
But as The New York Times reported on Sept. 17, 2004, there was a political back story behind McCain’s assistance to Nader. According to the Times, “Mr. Potter said that the Nader campaign first sought Mr. McCain’s backing in the case last week and that subsequently the Bush campaign also asked him to get nvolved.” (Candidate Nader and his running mate, Peter Camejo, issued a statement thanking McCain and the Reform Institute that is for some reason no longer available on the Nader campaign Web site.)
That tantalizing sequence of events suggests McCain’s motive in backing Nader may well have been partisan as well as principled, since the “maverick” senator had only weeks earlier sworn his fealty to George W. Bush on the dais at the Republican National Convention. Certainly the Bush campaign would have felt reassured knowing that Nader would be on the ballot again in Florida, like a lucky rabbit’s foot.
Friday, February 29, 2008
An Inside Joke
Is formerly respected consumer advocate Ralph Nader running for president--yet again--in order to pay back a favor to presumptive Republican’t candidate John “100 Years War” McCain? That’s what Salon columnist Joe Conason suggests today: