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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Nader Brings His Message to Ventura

August 23, 2000|DAVID KELLY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader stormed a Ventura stage Tuesday, telling screaming supporters not to buy into the politics of Democrats and Republicans, which he called the parties of "Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dumber."

The truth, Nader told about 1,000 people packed inside the Ventura College gymnasium, is that Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush are bought and paid for by corporate America.

Their stories of economic recovery are a sham, Nader said, when people must work two jobs to get by and families wonder who will watch their children while they are on the job.

"What gives here?" he asked. "These corporations have never made so much money, so why are they so greedy? Bosses now pay themselves 416 times the average entry-level pay of employees."

Nader said greed in the United States has become commercialized at a time when 50% of children in Ventura County live near the poverty level.

"Our economy is growing in the macro sense, but most of the country is being left behind," he said. "People work two jobs and can't make ends meet, and all we hear from Al Gore is how great the economy is."

In San Diego earlier Tuesday, Nader said the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is favored by both Gore and Bush, was a means for causing "toxic violence" on the U.S.-Mexico border and should be repealed.

Although Nader has risen steadily in the polls, he said he didn't believe he would take any votes away from either Democrat Gore or Republican Bush in a close presidential election.

Each candidate needs to earn his votes; no one is automatically deserving of support because of party affiliation, he said.

Traditionally, candidates from outside the major parties do well in polls long before the election, but their support often dissipates as voters gravitate toward the parties they typically support.

Nader, however, cited the example of Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, the former professional wrestler and radio announcer, who was swept into office in 1998 on a surge of last-minute support.

"What do you think, I'm running to lose?" Nader asked.

If Ventura County is any indicator, Nader can tap into lots of grass-roots support.

After the huge applause died down, Nader said, "Well, it looks like we are going to do well in California! All the boys back in Washington, D.C., are seriously worried about the Green Party in California."

Gary Orthuber, who helped coordinate the visit for the Ventura County Green Party, which claims 2,200 members, said he simply asked Nader if he would appear and "he said, 'Sure.' "

"I was kind of surprised, but he has been in the county before," said Orthuber, referring to a Nader visit four years ago to Thousand Oaks where he gave a speech.

Orthuber said he wasn't surprised by Nader's newfound popularity and the suggestion that he now presents a real threat to Gore and Bush.

"He is most persuasive on the issues, and the issues he raises are the real issues," Orthuber said. "Basically, we've got it down to where the corporations buy the system to get their way through.

"I defy anyone to seriously find the difference between Gore and Bush. They are ignoring the whole issue of campaign finance reform," Orthuber continued.

"Corporations pour in millions of dollars, and it's the best investment they can make. What has Gore done for the environment? He wrote a book. Good book, but that was the end of it. Bush sounds just like his dad," he said.

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