Perennial presidential candidate Ralph Nader said Friday in Salt Lake City that he's not a spoiler who takes away votes from other candidates but a victim of "political bigotry."
Nader, who is making his fourth appearance on the ballot this year, as an independent candidate, said he doesn't recognize the word spoiler. His Green Party candidacy in 2000 has been blamed for Democrat Al Gore's loss to the Republican in the race, George W. Bush.
"Spoiler is a word of political bigotry. I don't recognize it at all," Nader said during a press conference held in the state Capitol rotunda the morning after he delivered a speech to some 500 people at the University of Utah.
"I don't think small-party candidates or third-party candidates are second-class citizens," Nader said, charging that the Republican and Democratic parties have "spoiled our political system. They've turned the government over to big business."
Nader, who insisted he didn't hand Bush his narrow victory over Gore eight years ago, said challengers to the two-party system should be seen as no different. "None of us should be considered spoilers, unless we all are spoilers," he said.
But Nader said the media have all but ignored his campaign. And throughout his runs for office a brief write-in campaign in 1992 and on the ballot in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 he said he's been kept from participating in nationally televised debates.
"It seems a vicious circle. If you're not on the debates, you don't reach tens of millions of people. I can guarantee you, if I was on the presidential debates, the polls would surge," he said, declining to directly answer a question about whether he believed he could win this time.
"Are you a sports fan? Do you know any sports player who gives up?" he asked, noting political parties favoring an end to slavery and voting rights for women "went decade after decade before they prevailed."
As he was at the U. event Thursday evening, Nader was introduced at the press conference by former Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson. Anderson said he and Nader have worked together to impeach President Bush over his handling of the Iraq war.
Nader raised about $10,000 from his appearance at the U., according to his traveling press secretary, Matt Zawisky. Nader left Utah after his overnight visit for a campaign stop in Oakland, Calif.He said he plans to campaign in all 50 states, although he is on the ballot only in 45. That list now includes Utah after he completed the necessary paperwork Friday to qualify for a place on the November general election ballot.