Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Perennial presidential petitioner Ralph Nader drew a standing-room-only crowd Saturday at the Watertown Free Public Library, one of 21 towns and cities on his “whistle stop” stump-speech marathon through Massachusetts. (Note: there were not, in fact, any trains or whistles involved.)
More than 70 people attended the event, from both Watertown as well as surrounding communities. One attendee was from Calgary, Alberta; another was from New York. Nader’s brief — about 10 minutes — speech drew frequent rounds of enthusiastic applause and shouts of support from the crowd, who listened with apparent interest and focus on what Nader had to say.
Surprisingly composed and certainly not out of breath, Nader (whose running mate, Matt Gonzales, was not in attendance) faltered only once during the Watertown event, stumbling over his remarks stressing the need for a stronger three-party ballot. Though Watertown was only the mid-point of the campaign schedule, fatigue certainly was a factor, as he had started at 8:20 a.m. in Westfield. His staff reports he did not conclude until after 11 p.m. in Sheffield.
Nader is running as an independent. He is the nominee of various parties in different states, including the Peace and Freedom Party in California and the Ecology Party in Florida.
His message was two-fold. First, his campaign is trying to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most campaign visits in one state in one day.
His staff said he did it; no word yet from the folks at Guinness.
Second, he spoke ardently about the need to increase grassroots involvement, particularly among voters who are “often overlooked in the political process because the candidates considered slam-dunks visit only those states and cities [where they feel a greater need to promote their own self-interests],” he said.
Nader focused on the need for a stronger “watchdog effort” to enforce greater accountability in Washington, as well as the need for government to more closely represent not themselves, but all citizens. His statement advocating “sovereignty of the people over the power of the corporations” came across loud and clear throughout Nader’s remarks.
Then, it was off to a stop in Newton, with 10 more to follow. Only portions of northwestern Massachusetts and the Cape were not part of the day’s itinerary.
Campaign staffer Rob Socket said the entire team was “blown away” by the attendance at each stop, citing crowds of 50-200 people at each stop.
Nader is on the ballot in 45 states for the 2008 election. This year marks his fourth run for president. He had previously run in 1996, 2000 and 2004.
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