WASHINGTON – Ralph Nader (search) has some campaign advice for Democrat John Kerry: Loosen up.
The consumer advocate and independent presidential candidate said Tuesday that Kerry comes across as stiff and coached on the campaign trail.
"John Kerry (search) has got to get loose," Nader said. "He cannot allow political consultants to put handcuffs on his mind and his imagination. He's got to stop talking Senate-ese and be the old John Kerry I knew 23 years ago."
Appearing on a cable news show, Nader defended his decision to run as an independent despite a torrent of criticism from Democrats who claim he will siphon votes from Kerry and help re-elect Bush. Many Democrats blame Nader for taking votes from Al Gore in 2000 and ensuring Bush's narrow electoral victory.
"The Democrats should just stop whining and go to work," Nader said. "They should be landsliding Bush."
Nader said his campaign will help Democrats by opening a "second front" against Bush. He also repeated his claim that he would appeal to many disgruntled conservatives angry at Bush for increasing the deficit, signing the Patriot Act (search) and favoring international trade agreements that compromise national sovereignty.
"They are either going to stay home or look for an independent," he said.
As for liberals who call him vindictive or egomaniacal, Nader said, "That means they're out of arguments."
Nader said he plans to meet with Kerry and former presidential candidate Howard Dean to discuss his strategy.
"I'm going to say 'Look, we have one thing in common. We want to send the Bush corporation back to Crawford, Texas."'