WASHINGTON – Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader (search) raised about $600,000 in the two months since he announced his candidacy, enough money to qualify for federal matching funds and well ahead of the fund-raising pace he set four years ago, his campaign announced Wednesday.
In papers filed with Federal Election Commission (search), Nader said roughly 60 percent of that amount had been donated over the Internet.
To receive matching funds, a candidate must raise at least $5,000 in 20 states in donations of $250 or less. Nader has collected more than $5,000 from 23 different states. About 91 percent of his donations have been under $100.
"Unlike the major-party candidates we are not dialing for corporate dollars," Nader said in a statement. "We are seeking a broad base of support among the people."
The money pales in comparison to the millions being raised by Nader's major-party rivals, but it is enough to allow him to campaign as seriously as he did in 2000, when he received 2.7 percent of the vote. Much of the money raised will pay coordinators to oversee gathering signatures in Nader's quest to get on the ballots in all 50 states.
Campaign spokesman Kevin Zeese said Nader was able to make the request for matching funds two months earlier than he did in 2000, when he announced his candidacy at about the same time. Nader had raised only $198,000 by this time four years ago.
"We're doing better than last time despite the fear of the liberal intelligentsia," Zeese said. "And we're starting to establish ourselves as the only clear anti-war campaign."
Earlier this week, Nader called on the United States to withdraw all its forces from Iraq and work to develop an international peacekeeping force under the direction of the United Nations.
Nader has not yet qualified to be on the ballot in any state, but Zeese said the campaign expects to qualify in about a dozen "easy" states in the next few weeks. The first likely would be in Colorado and Louisiana, which require filing fees but no voter signatures.
The campaign has been targeting the toughest ballot-access states first, including Texas, which requires Nader to collect 64,000 valid signatures by May 10.
Nader was campaigning in Arizona on Wednesday. He was scheduled to speak to students at Arizona State University in Phoenix and at the University of Arizona in Tucson.