CHICAGO – Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader (search) called Tuesday for President Bush to be impeached for "deceiving the American people night after night after night" about U.S. involvement in Iraq.
"When you plunge our country into war on a platform of fabrications and deceptions, and you bring back thousands of American soldiers who are sick, injured or dead, and that war is unconstitutionally authorized to begin with, Mr. Bush's behavior qualifies for the high crimes and misdemeanor impeachment clause of the Constitution," the 2000 Green Party (search) presidential nominee said to applause from about 200 students at Columbia College Chicago.
Nader said President Clinton was impeached for "far less of an offense."
"Lying under oath is not a trivial offense, but it cannot compare with deceiving the American people night after night after night on national television, staging untruths and rejecting the advice of his advisers," he said.
Merrill Smith, a spokeswoman for Bush's re-election campaign, declined to comment.
Nader previously called for Bush's impeachment during an anti-war rally March 20 in the president's hometown of Crawford, Texas, to mark the first anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Nader, a longtime consumer advocate, was in Illinois to gather the 25,000 signatures he needs before June 21 to qualify for the state ballot. He failed Monday to qualify for Oregon's ballot, but said he would try again under another option there.
Many Democrats blame Nader for Democrat Al Gore's loss to Republican George W. Bush in 2000, and have urged him not to run this time. They cite the vote Nader captured in close contests in New Hampshire and Florida and argue that Gore would have won if either state had gone to the then-vice president.
But Nader says Gore is to blame for his misfortune, and he rejected the idea that he could draw support away from Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (search), the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
In Portland, Ore., on Monday, former Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean (search) warned that "a vote for Ralph Nader is the same as a vote for George Bush."
An audience member in Chicago was booed for suggesting something similar.
Nader responded: "What we have to tell the two parties in unmistakable terms is that this country does not belong to two parties."