Washington (CNSNews.com) - Green Party candidate Ralph Nader said Tuesday that he's confident there will be a four-way presidential candidate debate this fall. He cited a recent opinion poll, though not naming the source of the poll, showing that most Americans would like to see Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan and him included in the presidential debates.
Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, Nader said, "I hope that the swelling of public opinion to have a four-way presidential debate will increase. The latest poll shows 64 percent of the American people want me and Buchanan on the presidential debates."
Nader explained other reasons why there should be a four way presidential candidate debate.
"It's also a matter of keeping the American people awake in front of the television set. They should not watch the drab debate . . . the dreary. It's also a matter of appealing to 90 million non-voters. Over 50 percent of the eligible voters in this country didn't vote in the presidential campaign in 1996. That ought to be a badge of shame for the two parties," Nader said.
Nader also thinks a four-way presidential candidate debate will appeal to younger voters as well.
"It also means appealing to young voters who will always tell you they are not turned on by politics. I always tell them: if you're not turned on by politics, politics will turn on you. We've got to get them involved. We've got to get the independent new voters involved as John Anderson did in 1980," Nader said.
Anderson, a former Illinois Republican congressman, ran for president in 1980, first as a Republican and then as an independent. He eventually captured 10 percent of the popular vote in a three-way race with Republican Ronald Reagan and Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter.
Nader also addressed the issue that his campaign may take votes away from Democrat Al Gore.
"When somebody says to me, aren't you concerned about taking away votes from Al Gore? I would say, how could I be? If I was, I wouldn't be running for the presidency of the United States on the Green Party ticket and trying to encourage more candidates at the local, state and national level to run on the Green Party ticket," Nader said.
In fact, Nader had harsh words for the Democrats.
"I think the greatest condemnation of this once working families party, the Democratic Party, is, in the last 10 years, they've become very good at electing very bad Republicans. And, if the people of this country cannot rely on the Democratic Party to save the Congress and the country from the likes of (Senate Republican Leader) Trent Lott and (Former House Speaker) Newt Gingrich and (House Republican Leader) Dick Armey and (House Republican Whip) Tom DeLay, then what level of expectation must be clung to top that kind of surrender and abdication?" Nader asked.
Nader also criticized Vice President Al Gore on the universal health care issue.
"Every western country provides universal health coverage for its people. But we are not doing it, and, to hear Mr. Gore, he pledges that he wants to do it, step by step, and it seems like its step by step backwards. In 1993, there were 35 million Americans without health care coverage and there are now about 46 million Americans. Now, the health care system is riddled with inefficiencies, monopolistic practices and waste," Nader said.