Nader to Sue Debate Commission?
NEW HAVEN, Connecticut -- Running on more political steam than sleep the day after his dramatic expulsion from the grounds of the first presidential debate, Ralph Nader reaffirmed his plans for retaliation against the Presidential Debate Commission and summoned a blistering attack on two of New England's prominent Democratic senators.
At several points during a packed campaign schedule Wednesday that included stops in Providence, R.I., and Hartford, New London, and New Haven, Conn., Nader threatened a lawsuit against the debate commission to remedy what he called "one of the worst blunders the commission has made in the history of blunders and displays of arrogance."
On Tuesday night, Nader attempted to enter a University of Massachusetts auditorium broadcasting a live television feed of the debates with a valid ticket, and later tried entering the area with a FoxNews team, both times to find himself removed from the premises by police acting on behalf of a debate commission representative.
Nader said he will request that the commission, which was founded by representatives of the Democratic and Republican parties, issue him a public apology and donate $25,000 to Harvard Law School's project on electoral reform. If the commission refuses this settlement, he said, "we'll see them in court."
Besides issuing this threat, Nader spent the day slinging barbs at Sens. Patrick Kennedy and Joseph Lieberman. In recent weeks, Nader has criticized Kennedy (D-R.I.) as a "bagman" and corporate lackey who has strayed from his family's populist roots. On Wednesday, Nader's voice resonated loudly in the white marble hall of Rhode Island's state capital building as he railed against Kennedy's feverish tactics to win back a Democratic majority in the Senate this year.
"The Kennedy family has been known for years for being on the front lines of progressive politics," he said, "and to have one of the heirs of the Kennedy family tradition focus almost every waking political hour of his life going to corporate watering holes from coast to coast, essentially demanding that these companies give his party money and inferentially saying that his party is going to be good to these corporate interests, is a disastrous denouement to the Kennedy family legacy."
Greg Garret, an organizer from the Rhode Island Green Party, said Kennedy was offended by Nader's "bagman" comments and called for a last-minute counter-rally before Nader's appearance outside the state building. It was unclear how many people attended Senator Kennedy's rally.
Nader took his three stops in Connecticut as opportunities to depict Gore's vice presidential candidate as a virtual serf to big business. "Joe Lieberman is the real Al Gore," he told a large crowd at Connecticut College in New London. "Al Gore is going around the country saying that he's going to battle the corporations, and Joe Lieberman is running around saying that it's just impassioned rhetoric, assuring the corporations that Al Gore doesn't really mean what he says." Lieberman has been criticized by Green Party members and liberal Democrats for his active involvement in the party's conservative Democratic Leadership Council.
Nader tied up the day by addressing a packed house at Yale University in New Haven. The Battle Chapel was filled to its capacity of 1100, with 200 more turned away at the door.