Ralph and Me

This is an interview with Carol Miller, N.M. state director for Ralph Nader's presidential campaign.

Brendan Smith: You're coordinating Ralph Nader's independent campaign in New Mexico, but you're also state co-chair for the Green Party, which is endorsing its own presidential candidate. How can you do both jobs at the same time?

Carol Miller: When we had our state convention, I made it very clear that I was supporting Nader, and I was still nominated and elected overwhelmingly to be co-chair. I think for a lot of people that was not a concern. I'm probably going to change my role with the state Green Party prior to the election, primarily because I'm going to be working out of state for the Nader campaign.

Smith: Why are you supporting Nader instead of Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb?

Miller: Ralph Nader is just a real hero of mine. I was maybe the first person who asked him to run as an independent. Several years ago, I was at a meeting with him, and I started putting forward the idea to really have a campaign that reaches out to disgruntled voters, independents, non-voters, and I felt it was more difficult to do that within a party structure.

Smith:Nader is still haunted by claims he threw the election to Bush in 2000.

Miller: He didn't, because Gore won! People have created an anti-Nader industry, a very expensive campaign that is designed for nothing but keeping a candidate off the ballot. To me, it is the biggest travesty of democracy that I've experienced in my lifetime.

Smith:What issues do you think Nader brings to the table that the major parties aren't talking about?

Miller: Well, he has a very firm peace plan for getting out of Iraq within six months, unlike Kerry who says we'll be there at least four more years. How many people are going to die in those four years? Nader's plan for Iraq is to not just internationalize the military effort but to internationalize the corporate contracts, which have all gone to American corporations. Ralph is an Arabic speaker. He is an Arab-American himself, so he feels there are a lot of ways to work out the situation, but that you can't have peace now in Iraq without dealing with the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Smith:You have until Sept. 7 to collect 14,500 signatures from registered voters to get Nader on the ballot in New Mexico. Any doubts about meeting the deadline? Miller: We're going to have about 25,000 signatures or more that we're going to be turning in to the Secretary of State. I have no doubt, absolutely no doubt. Our petitioning is going very well.

Smith:If Nader gets on the ballot here, he could take votes from Cobb and cause the Green Party to lose major-party status in New Mexico. Does that concern you?

Miller: We challenged the way the Secretary of State took our major-party status before. We brought it to the New Mexico Supreme Court, and they sent us back one word after we paid all these legal fees. It just said, "Declined." We really need to get a large group of people that believe in democracy into the Legislature so we can reform our ballot laws.

Smith:Is the Republican Party trying to manipulate Nader's campaign?

Miller: Well, I think that they've tried. It hasn't been thought out. I'm kind of like, "Who cares?" because they're all going to go vote for Bush, except for a distinct group within the Republican Party that will vote for Nader, and those are Republican women concerned about their children who've lost faith in Bush.

Smith:Some Greens and progressive Democrats believe Nader is more interested in his ego than the country because of the possibility that Bush will be re-elected.

Miller: Have you heard of any politician who doesn't have a big ego? I was meeting with Gov. Bill Richardson a couple months ago, and I asked him, "Is your ego smaller than Ralph Nader's?" Ralph Nader should have a big ego because he's accomplished so much. He's very self-deprecating. The more he's attacked, the more determined he gets.

Smith:What's your take on Kerry?

Miller: On some things he'll be better than Bush and some things he'll be worse than Bush. I think Kerry is gonna win. I hope he realizes he's going to win with a lot of people holding their nose and voting for him, that he's betrayed the base of the Democrat Party.

Smith:What do you think about Kerry's use of his Vietnam service as a political tool even though he later protested against the war?

Miller: I worked with Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and Kerry was in and out, and a lot of veterans at the peace marches were still getting their heads beat in. He made some good anti-war statements then, but he's voted for us to do the same thing in Iraq that he was opposing in Vietnam. Where's the disconnect? How do you trust someone to be president when you see him as perfectly opportunistic?

Smith:Nader recently said Michael Moore is so fat he looks "like a giant beach ball." Nader has always been lean and mean. Does he have a secret diet to help Moore lose his extra chins?

Miller: Ralph is such a hard worker, and he eats really healthy, so I think that's the secret. His mom, Rose Nader, has a cookbook, called Feeding Ralph Nader. She said she decided to write a cookbook because constantly when she was interviewed, they'd say "What did you feed this guy to turn him into Ralph Nader?" She has this cookbook of good, home-cooked Lebanese food; it's the Mediterranean diet to the max.

Smith: Will Nader run again in 2008 or is this his last shot?

Miller: He's not going to run again. He's 70 years old. His family won't let him run again. He's still got a lot of books to write.

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