Nader: McAuliffe offered me money to pull out of key states

Photo credit: Stephen C. Webster

Ralph Nader, political stalwart of what he believes to be the real American Left, is not one to shy away from controversial statements.

But this one’s a little bigger than most.

Terry McAuliffe — currently running for Virginia Governor, but formerly Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager and chairman of the Democratic National Committee — offered an unspecified amount of money to fuel Nader’s campaign, if you believe Theresa Amato, author of the recently-published bookGrand Illusion: The Myth of Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny.

In the volume, she and Nader allege that McAuliffe personally called and offered a sum of money to enhance the Nader campaign in 31 states if he would pull out of 19 key Democratic battlegrounds.

The Washington Post noted:

McAuliffe isn’t denying the charge. His spokeswoman Elisabeth Smith said in a statement McAuliffe “was concerned that Ralph Nader would cost John Kerry the election as he did Al Gore in 2000 and give us another four years of George W. Bush.”

“It looks like Ralph Nader misses seeing his name in the press,” Smith said. “Terry’s focused on talking with Virginians about jobs, not feeding Ralph Nader’s ego.”

The accusations are outlined in a new book, Grand Illusion, The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny, by Theresa Amato, Nader’s national campaign manager in 2000 and 2004, who writes about the barriers to third-party candidates.

In a press release, the authors continue:

In Grand Illusion, Amato, the national manager of Nader’s lightning-rod 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, recounts how, after Nader rebuffed Chairman McAuliffe’s offer, the DNC and its state party affiliates embarked on an effort, unprecedented in U.S. history, to force Nader out of the 2004 presidential election. Amato says McAuliffe repeated over and over during a conversation:  “Stay out of 19 states.”

McAuliffe’s 2004 attempt to confine Nader to 31 states, revealed an exclusionary and censorious Terry McAuliffe that is hard to reconcile with gubernatorial candidate McAuliffe’s professed support for ballot access and democratic participation as a candidate in Virginia’s 2009 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

So, McAuliffe’s people aren’t denying it.

I want to know: Was this a calculated, strategic-yet-fair political decision or an outright obfuscation of American democracy?

— Stephen C. Webster

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