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Nader: Kerry Getting Free Consulting Tips

Memo to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search): Listen to your rival and unpaid consultant, Ralph Nader (search), and he just might help you get elected president.

The Winsted, Conn., native said in a televised interview Kerry is "getting free consulting from this campaign. We are putting on his desk twice a week issues that could win if the Democrats are smart enough to pick them up."

The latest issue letter, which Nader distributes by e-mail, concerns a living wage. Nader, who is running as an independent in this year's presidential campaign, said 47 million people make less than $10 an hour — "Wal-Mart wages," he called them — and urged Democrats to make it an issue in the campaign.

"They've got to get to the level where they can sustain themselves and a minimum standard of living," said Nader, a longtime consumer advocate who sought the presidency under the Green Party banner in 2000. Democrats blame him for Al Gore's (search) loss to Republican George W. Bush (search), but Nader says Gore is to blame for the defeat.

Nader last week was endorsed by the national Reform Party, a significant move that gives him access to the ballot in at least seven states, including the battlegrounds of Florida and Michigan. Nader is not yet on any state ballot.

Asked whether he would drop out if he were to conclude that staying in the race would hurt Kerry and guarantee Bush's re-election, Nader said he would not.

"No. Of course not," he said. "You don't run a presidential campaign nationally and say to your volunteers who have worked their heart out sometime in October, well, sorry."

Nader also said he hasn't been able to schedule a meeting with Kerry. Both men have said they want to sit down together and discuss the campaign.

"I've been trying to meet him now for two weeks and we haven't been able to get even his campaign manager to return the call, even though he's indicated publicly that he wants to get together," Nader said.

Without elaborating, Nader said he also had telephoned Kerry himself.

A Kerry campaign aide who spoke on condition of anonymity attributed the candidate's inability to meet with Nader to scheduling difficulties for both, not a reluctance to have a meeting.

"The Kerry campaign would like the two of them to meet when it can be scheduled," the aide said. "Their shared commitment to the environment, reform and health care add up to strong mutual interests in defeating George Bush."