Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader said Thursday at the University of Utah that voters should "prepare to be severely disappointed" by his Democratic rival, Barack Obama.
Nader, who is making his fourth bid for the White House, didn't have much good to say either about his Republican opponent, John McCain, other than McCain may have "a little more gumption" than Obama.
The longtime consumer advocate branded both traditional party candidates as "overwhelmingly corporate" and asked for support from voters ready to decide they've had enough of a government controlled by big business.
"They're pushing your face in the mud," Nader told about 500 people gathered at the U.'s Gardner Hall to hear him and former Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson make a pitch for Nader's candidacy.
Anderson, who received at least as much applause as Nader, called on the largely youthful crowd to show they "have spines" by allowing themselves to be inspired by the onetime Green Party candidate.
"This whole nation needs to be turned around," said Anderson, a Democrat who told the crowd he had voted for Nader in the previous election. "We're not going to do it with the Democrats saying, 'We'll get around to it someday."'
Although Nader has been blamed for taking votes away from Democrats especially Al Gore in the fiercely contested 2000 election he and his supporters rejected the spoiler label.
Already, Nader said, a cable news channel poll has pegged his support at 6 percent, despite little interest from the media. Most voters, he said, don't even know yet that he's running. "This is more than a nice rally," Nader said, describing himself as in third place.
Nader repeatedly asked the audience to decide what their breaking points were with the established parties. "If none of us have breaking points, none of us have a moral compass," he said.
Much of his speech was almost professorial, focusing on the control he said corporations have acquired over government through campaign contributions and lobbying efforts.
But Nader also spoke of his opposition to the Iraq war, making some of the same points as Anderson did last week when he testified before a Congressional committee about the need to impeach President Bush.
"Bush lied," Nader said, adding that the Democratically controlled Congress elected last term on promises to end the war are actually spending more money than ever on the effort. "All this is going on in our name," Nader said.
He and Anderson are scheduled to hold a press conference this morning in the Capitol Rotunda about impeaching the president. Nader is also expected to formally submit his name for a spot on the Utah ballot.
One member of the audience, Marlene Wilson of Layton, said she voted for Bush in the last election and has always considered herself a Republican. The war, though, has changed her mind, she said.Wearing a recently purchased "Nader for President" T-shirt, Wilson said it was "amazing" to be able to see him speak here in Utah without contributing large amounts of money to attend a fundraiser.