NADER draws big crowd at first major rally since last year's presidential campaign

Sunday, August 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Appearing at his first major rally since last year's presidential campaign, Ralph Nader urged thousands of supporters Saturday night to keep going and use ``civic power'' to make themselves heard.

``If millions of people think that they can't count and don't matter and can't change things and can't get their calls returned, that is in and of itself the biggest source of the power of the repressors and the power brokers,'' he said.

Saying his Green Party campaign had created a ``rumble'' felt by the political establishment, Nader railed against everything from gas prices to the local news at the $10-a-head ``People Have the Power'' rally.

Nader, blamed by many Democrats for drawing liberal votes from Al Gore and handing the White House to George W. Bush, saved his sharpest attacks for genetic engineering and biomedical companies.

``The new slavery is the ownership and control of the genetic inheritance of the world: the flora, the fauna and the human genes,'' he said.

He added that corporations ``are rampaging, weakening and undermining our democracy, and shortchanging our individual potential if we don't toe the line, if we don't obey, if we don't get on our knees and beg for their indulgences.''

The 67-year-old Nader, who became a household name in the 1960s by crusading for improved auto safety, said last year's campaign accomplished a great deal. But he said it was too early to decide whether he'll run again in 2004.

``I don't believe in long campaigns,'' he said.

Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder, actor Danny Glover and former Dead Kennedys singer/activist Jello Biafra also appeared at the rally.

A group of about a dozen people, still angry that Nader didn't concede defeat earlier during the election and send votes to Gore, protested outside the arena, but Nader dismissed them.

``No candidate should be concerned about getting votes for their opponents,'' he said. ``What these people are really saying is that we shouldn't have run: Leave the political arena to the two big parties, keep quiet, stay home, don't challenge them.