Nader denounces opponents, vows to stay in race to the end

Democrats concerned he could tip vote to Bush


WASHINGTON - Ralph Nader vowed yesterday that he would stay in the presidential race to the end and said he wanted to "explain the nature" of his independent campaign.

So he held forth for nearly 90 minutes at a news conference, thrashing the "two-party electoral dictatorship of this country," and calling President Bush "a chicken hawk, draft-dodging, messianic militarist presiding over a no-fault government."

Nader's monologue seemed less a call to arms than a not-so-fond farewell to a bitter campaign in which many of his former allies have denounced him. Even his former running mate from the 2000 campaign, Winona LaDuke, has endorsed Democrat John Kerry.

"We will stay in the race," Nader said. "I will never betray our volunteers and our staff."

He denounced Howard Dean, whose anti-war candidacy nearly propelled him to the Democratic presidential nomination, saying the former Vermont governor had gone from being an "insurgent" to being a "detergent" who is now "washing the Democratic Party's dirty linen."

Nader is drawing about 1 percent of the vote in national polls, compared with the 2.7 percent he won in 2000. Back then, he was on the ballot in 43 states. This time, after coordinated legal challenges by the Democrats, he is on the ballot in 34 states and the District of Columbia.

But some of those states are too close to call, and his opponents worry that he could tip the vote in some of them in Bush's favor as he did in Florida and New Hampshire in 2000. A poll released Wednesday in Minnesota showed Bush and Kerry in a dead heat with Nader drawing 5 percent of the vote.

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