Nader To Speak in Science Center Today

Students will throng across the river to see Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., accept his party’s presidential nomination next week, and others will trek to New York next month to see President Bush lead his party at the Republican National Convention—but another presidential candidate will visit Harvard’s campus today: Ralph Nader, the left-leaning candidate without a party.

The Harvard Socialist Alternative is sponsoring today’s rally for Nader in Science Center C. The event is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. and culminate in a speech by Nader at 5:15, followed by a question and answer session. A planner said he was expecting an audience of between 500 and 1,000 people.

Nader, who first caught the public’s eye as a consumer advocate decades ago, most recently made a bid for the White House in 2000. That unsuccessful campaign, under the auspices of the Green Party, has been accused of tipping the balance from former Vice President Al Gore ’69 to then-Texas Governor George W. Bush in the tight vote count of November 2000.

And students might have the chance today to ask Nader about his spoiler role.

The members of the so-called Harvard Socialist Alternative “have five speakers lined up to give brief remarks on what issues are important to them,” said Michael Richardson, a Massachusetts coordinator for Nader’s independent 2004 campaign. “Mr. Nader will be the keynote speaker; he will also be taking a question and answer section—something the major party candidates wouldn’t dream of doing.”

According to a flyer advertising the event, Nader is to speak on the subject of why he has chosen to run for president this year, although Richardson said that he may speak on other topics of interest as well.

“Ralph Nader is one of those incredibly diverse public speakers that can pull out a bit of fact and then expound on it at length,” Richardson said.

According to Ralph Nader’s website, www.votenader.org, he is running for president “To take our democracy back from the corporate interests that dominate both parties.” Other possible topics of today’s talk are the prospects for moderating corporate control of U.S. politics and the media, and the United States’ approach to war and peace.

Nader is in Boston today to speak to the Veterans for Peace and Social Forum groups, but agreed to speak at Harvard one week ago, leaving the Harvard Socialist Alternative little time to plan the event.

“With only a week it’s been difficult,” said Daniel Dimaggio ’04, who was a member of the Harvard Socialist Alternative while he was a College student. “We’ve been postering, and we sent e-mails around to a bunch of lists.”

Dimaggio said that many people have reacted angrily to the Socialist Alternative’s publicity attempts.

“Many of the posters have been torn down,” Dimaggio said. “There are a lot of people out there who are for some reason opposed to democracy and him getting his voice out there, and it starts with the Democratic party.”

Nader is still not on the ballot in Massachusetts, lacking the requisite 10,000 signatures on his petition to be recognized by the state.

“I think we’ll get him on the ballot, though,” Dimaggio said.

While Dimaggio booked the Science Center classroom, Richardson said the Nader campaign will be paying for the venue, in accordance with his campus policy of not taking advantage of campus facilities provided free of charge.

Richardson said the votes of Harvard students are important to Nader’s campaign.

“Ralph Nader is counting on votes from all over the country from every sector,” Richardson said. “Harvard students are well educated and they should offer a good measure of support.”

Richardson said that bumper stickers and buttons will be distributed to supporters at the rally.

—Staff writer Joshua P. Rogers can be reached at jprogers@fas.harvard.edu