While the two major party candidates garner the lion’s share of media attention, Independent candidate Ralph Nader is still on the stump. His grassroots campaign will make a stop at the La Paloma Theater on Sept. 27.
“We’re talking about the issues that the two major parties aren’t even bothering to address,” Nader said in a telephone interview from his Washington, D.C., headquarters. Apparently, a lot of people are listening. Nader is polling at between 5 and 6 percent nationally and as high as 7 percent in swing states like Pennsylvania and Colorado.
While these numbers don’t come close to the major party candidates, there is concern that a good showing by Nader could upset the balance in such a closely contested race. The Democrats are cringing at the idea of a repeat of the 2000 election, when it is widely believed that Nader pulled enough voters from Al Gore to put George Bush in the White House.
Nader, who is best known for his consumer rights advocacy, said he chose Encinitas to hold a rally because of the people. “It’s a wonderful place,” he said. “There are lots of active people who show up for events like these.”
Encinitas resident Joan Balfour said she supports the idea of a strong third party candidate. “There are so many things that the Republicans and Democrats don’t address during the election,” she said. “Having another voice seems to keep them honest in a way.”
Nader said he will address the “major issues and redirections in this country,” unlike the other major party candidates. “We support a living wage, reducing military spending and a host of issues that aren’t even being talked about,” he said.
Nader isn’t afraid to weigh in on local issues. In California, a topic of concern is offshore drilling. “It’s not needed and it’s a danger to the environment,” he said. “The best oil drills are in Detroit, Mich. — fuel efficient cars.”
President Ronald Reagan banned offshore drilling in 1981. “With the wind and solar power that can be generated, there is no reason to undo something that was put in place by a Republican in ’81,” Nader said.
His campaign is hoping to get the message out through rallies across the nation and the Internet. “We’ve been banned from the three big debates,” Nader said. “We’ve been in talks with Google to have a debate, but Obama turned it down.”
Nader said the Obama campaign also turned down a request to a debate sponsored by a veteran’s group. The Obama campaign did not return repeated calls for comment.
“You never know, they could add a debate,” Nader said. In the interim, undecided voter Sharon Watson in Carlsbad said she is logging on to her computer to do her own research on the issues and the candidates. “Nader is only on the ballot in 45 states,” she said. “He’s not going to be the next president, but I think it’s important we all do our homework instead of just being fed the same information by the same media outlets.”
For more information go to www.votenader.org.