WASHINGTON – Democrats won't be arguing this year that Ralph Nader (search) ruined the chances of their presidential candidate.
Unlike the 2000 race, Nader failed to win enough votes in any state to affect the overall outcome for Democrat John Kerry (search). Nationwide, the independent presidential candidate won 0.3 percent of the vote, just a fraction of the 2.7 percent he earned four years ago.
Nader vowed to continue his campaign against corporate domination of American politics. He lashed out at Democrats and the "liberal intelligentsia" for pressuring him to quit the race and mounting a massive legal campaign to keep him off the ballots in key battleground states.
"The liberals who staff and fund so many of those good groups, that years ago made demands on politicians, they don't make demands on the Democratic Party anymore," a raspy-voiced Nader told about 150 supporters gathered in Washington late Tuesday.
"The contempt that the Democratic Party has for groups that support them, when these groups do not make any demand on them, they are making the Democratic Party seem more like the Republican Party," Nader said.
Nearly every major environmental, civil rights, labor and consumer group opposed Nader, but he said he decided to run because both major political parties refused to address his concerns, including public financing of elections, a universal, single-payer health care system and withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Nader was on the ballot in 34 states this year, including at least a half-dozen battleground states where Democrats feared his presence could tip the balance in another razor-thin presidential contest. In 2000, he appeared on 43 state ballots as the Green Party's candidate.
Election returns show Nader was much less of a factor this year than in 2000, when Democrats say he siphoned votes from Gore in Florida and New Hampshire, giving the states and the election to George W. Bush.
The independent presidential candidate won less than 0.5 percent of the vote in Florida, while Bush led Kerry by 5 percentage points. Four years ago, Nader won about 2 percent — more than 97,000 votes. Democrats believe most of those votes would have gone to Gore, who lost the state by 537 votes.
Deb Callahan, president of the League of Conservation Voters, called Nader's candidacy a failure that did nothing to fulfill his promise to build a grass-roots progressive movement.
"I think Ralph Nader has really ruined the reputation that he built throughout his career," said Callahan, whose group endorsed Kerry. "He lost the credibility to lead because leadership means you're striving for results. He was striving to make a point, not make a change."
Nader said Tuesday that Democrats should "stay tuned: We are just beginning to fight. We'll make ballot access and electoral reform a prime civil liberties issue."