By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
OCTOBER 31After surviving Gore-inspired "flash attacks" over the weekend, Ralph Nader's campaign is now the target of a propaganda wave. One high-profile Gore partisan this morning was spreading a nasty rumor about the Nader machine. According to the scuttlebutt, Nader operatives had leaked information that the consumer advocate had been secretly offered $12 millionthe amount his Green Party would get in federal matching funds if he won 5 percent of the vote next Tuesdayto take a fall against Gore in key states. The whisperer said Nader had refused the money.
Nader's campaign immediately denied the story. "Unbelievable," said one spokeperson. Another flatly rejected the rumor and reiterated the candidate's dedication to staying in the hunt. "I can absolutely assure you Ralph has no intention of dropping out of the race."
Gore operatives are also trying to resurrect a story dating back to the mid 1970s, which has Nader joining the leaders of Washington public-interest groups to resist efforts to unionize the movement's employees. At that time, unions themselves were only lukewarm to such organizing efforts, and the one successful union to be formed at the Institute for Policy Studies was broken by the Institute directors Marc Raskin and Dick Barnet. Nader played an insignificant role in that long-ago anti-unioning drive. In fact, in recent years Nader had led the union-backed fight against NAFTA.
The flash attacks appear to tapering off. "The calls are still coming in, but they've dropped off somewhat," said a Nader spokesperson. "I figure they got tired."
Meanwhile, the attorneys general of both Texas and California are warning vote-swap Web siteswhich help Nader backers trade ballots with Gore supportersthat they are treading in dangerous, and possibly illegal, territory. Two of the Web sites reportedly shut down under the threat of prosecution.
Gore's camp still has plenty of reason to fear Nader's impact on swing states. A new Rasmussen poll has Nader at 6 percent in California, with Gore leading Bush by 3 percent. That places Nader as a deciding factor there.
The latest Zogby tracking poll has Bush at 45 percent and Gore at 42. ABC has the two candidates tied. Reuters/MSNBC has Bush at 45 percent, Gore at 42. According to The Washington Post, Bush has 47 percent, Gore 46. CNN/USA Today/Gallup shows Bush at 47 and Gore at 44.