Nader Gets Debate Ticket
BOSTON (AP) _ Shunned from the presidential debate, a trio of third-party candidates did their best Tuesday to keep the Republican and Democratic nominees from stealing the show.
Green Party candidate Ralph Nader even scored a ticket for the debate, a gift from Tod Tavares, a 21-year-old Northeastern University student who said he got it from a roommate.
``It’s a small sacrifice for the good of a nation,″ Tavares said.
Nader said he would go inside the hall _ and may even try to ask a question.
``We’ll see if Al Gore and George W. Bush not only want to exclude me from the debates but exclude me from the audience,″ he said. ``There seems to be no end to the political cowardliness of Tweeledum Gore and Tweedledummer Bush.″
Meanwhile, hours before the debate, a judge threw out a court challenge filed earlier in the day by Massachusetts Libertarians to try to force organizers to include their candidate, Harry Browne.
``The plaintiffs have slept on their rights by waiting until the last minute to seek relief,″ Suffolk Superior Court Judge Gordon Doerfer ruled. He said intervening in the debates would deprive the public of information it needs about the candidates.
The lawsuit claimed Browne should be included because Massachusetts, which officially recognizes the party, spent $900,000 to help pay for the debate.
Nader also criticized the commission’s decision to limit the debate to candidates with more than 15 percent support in national polls. Only the Democrat, Vice President Al Gore, and the Republican, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, qualified to participate.
``They have the keys. This debate commission is a private company created by the two parties,″ Nader told about 1,000 supporters. ``The thing is why do we as a society let them control the gateway? Why don’t we have many gateways, many debates?″
As he concluded his remarks some students chanted ``Let Ralph debate! Let Ralph debate!″
Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan, meeting reporters in his Boston hotel, said it was unfair to keep his party out. He and Nader were appearing separately on Fox News Channel after the debate.
``I feel like Slippery Rock State Teachers and we made the Final Four of the NCAAs and they won’t even let us in the gymnasium,″ Buchanan said.
Buchanan, who has more than $12 million in federal campaign funds to spend, outlined plans to launch an advertising campaign next week in states he says have been abandoned by Republicans, including California, New Jersey and most of New England.
He is aiming for 5 percent of the popular vote in the Nov. 7 election to guarantee that the Reform Party gets federal matching funds again in 2004. Buchanan said the ads would run mainly on Christian radio stations and would highlight local concerns, such as immigration in California and Arizona.