The anybody-but-Bush crowd thrusts; the candidate parries.
Jason Salzman still remembers how he felt about the Democrats and Vice President Al Gore in 2000. "I was at the end of my rope with the Democratic Party," says the Denver-based public relations consultant.
Despite objections from family, friends, and colleagues, he cast a vote for Ralph Nader, his first for a third-party candidate. Even after the Florida election fiasco, Mr. Salzman still felt he'd done the right thing, and proudly plastered an "Unrepentant Nader Voter" bumper sticker on his car.
But after two years with President Bush in office - and what Salzman saw as increasing evidence of the president's "extremism" - he began feeling a few twinges of regret. When the bombs began to fall on Baghdad last year his twinges become full-fledged remorse.
"The day that happened," he says, "I took a razor blade and excised the "un" from the unrepentant sticker on my car. It was a liberating act of self-correction, and now I think all Nader voters should experience it."
Salzman is serious; in fact, last summer he started one of the first of a small but growing group of Internet campaigns to swing voters away from Nader (www.repentantnadervoter.com). And this month he started a political action committee that will allow him to raise money to support his efforts to get former Nader voters to vote Democrat in 2004. "We [still] love Ralph Nader," he says. "But Bush has turned out to be so extreme it's not worth the risk to vote for Nader again."
Other Internet-based anti-Nader campaigns include StopNader.com, Ralph-Nader.info, Don'tVoteRalph.net, and GreensforKerry.com. Some sites, like Salzman's, are grass-roots efforts. But others are run by Democratic Party faithfuls, including TheNaderFactor.com, which was started last month by Tricia Enright, whose campaign credits include Gov. Howard Dean's recent bid and Al Gore's 2000 run, and by two top aides from Gen. Wesley Clark's short-lived presidential campaign.
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