Nader draws out hundreds of Seattle supporters
By ELIZABETH M. GILLESPIE
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
SEATTLE -- Ralph Nader rallied a crowd of peace activists, socialists and other liberals at a town hall meeting Monday, urging them to shake up a political system he criticized as too heavily influenced by corporate interests.
Republican and Democratic agendas differ too little, the Independent presidential hopeful declared, pointing to the bipartisan support Congress gave in recent years to the USA Patriot Act, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and President Bush's No Child Left Behind education reform law.
Nader scoffed at the notion that anyone who wants to unseat Bush should back Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
"Stack up the similarities and stack up the needs of the American people, and we simply cannot stand for a party that flunks, but doesn't flunk as badly as the other party," Nader told about 400 people.
Nader failed to qualify for Oregon's presidential ballot on Monday but aides said he would try again.
A total of 741 people came to a Portland theater to sign petitions - fewer than the 1,000 signatures Nader needed to qualify for the Oregon ballot, said Oregon state elections director John Lindback.
The threshold is even lower in Washington state, where third-party candidates have to gather just 200 signatures at a nominating convention held sometime between the last Saturday in June and the first Saturday in July.