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Nader Supporters Few But Fervent

By Evan M. Vittor, Contributing Writer

Small in number but strong in resolve, several of “Nader’s Raiders” organized a Harvard Hall teach-in last night to kick off the Nader campaign at Harvard.

Daniel DiMaggio ’05, one of the organizers of the event and a member of the Harvard Socialist Alternative Club, hoped to rally support for Nader, who recently announced his candidacy for president of the United States.

“This is a kick-off event to establish a presence for the Nader campaign here at Harvard,” DiMaggio said. “I am encouraged by the 6-percent support in the recent national AP poll. Eventually we will get a campaign going here at Harvard.”

Though the event was attended by only a half-dozen people, those present were unfazed by the low turnout and still fiery in their rhetoric.

“We had less than expected turnout, but we look forward to mercurial growth in the future because we hate the Democrats,” said Johnhenry R. Gonzalez ’06, who is also a member of the Harvard Socialist Alternative club.

The Nader supporters spent much of the less than half-hour rally discussing their thoughts on the Democratic Party and Nader’s role as a third-party alternative

In response to a question about whether or not Nader cost former U.S. Vice President Al Gore ’69 the 2000 Presidential election, Amy E. Keel ’04, who attended the event, said, “Exit polls show that people who voted for Nader wouldn’t have voted for Gore anyway. People have the misconception that Nader cost Gore the 2000 election. Much of this is propaganda generated by the Democratic Party.”

Several campus Democrats interviewed yesterday disagreed, saying they believed that Nader had cost the Democrats the election.

And they added that Nader would not do the same in 2004.

“I think that a lot of people are now drawn to the Democrats because we have seen what happens when a radical administration, like the Bush administration, takes hold,” said Andy J. Frank ’05, president of the Harvard College Democrats. “I don’t think that students for Nader will have much of an effect on the politics of this campus.”

Members of the Harvard Republican Club echoed these sentiments, but encouraged the efforts of Nader’s supporters.

“The Harvard Republican Club encourages political action by students of any political affiliation. We think that Bush will be able to win handily with or without Nader in the race,” said Mark T. Silvestri ’05, president of the Harvard Republican Club.

Nader, who officially announced his candidacy on Feb. 22, will run as an independent candidate. He ran as the Green Party candidate in 1996 and 2000.

Thomas E. Potter Jr., a faculty secretary at Harvard Law School who attended the event, said the candidate’s decision to run independently will not deter him from voting for Nader, whom he depicted as an alternative to big-party politics.

“Politics in this country don’t have to be held captive by corporate America,” Potter said. “[We need] a political party for the working class.”

Despite his support, Potter said Nader should have been more vocal about many of the issues in this country since the last presidential election took place.

“I agree that he did a kind of disappearing act after the election, and I feel he should have been involved in party building. My support for him is based on my belief in the need to get rid of the stranglehold on politics in this country,” Potter said.

When asked if they would vote for Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., in 2004 if Nader decided to end his bid, the Nader supporters unanimously answered no.

“There is no way I would vote for Kerry. He supported the war in Iraq. I would probably vote for some obscure candidate who would only get a couple thousand votes,” DiMaggio said.

Today’s teach-in at Harvard was one of many happenings at college campuses in support of Nader. The rally participants indicated that although turnout was low, they would continue to host events.

DiMaggio indicated that the next teach-in would probably take place after spring break.

“We are looking to see how many other people on this campus might be interested in the Nader campaign,” DiMaggio said.

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