Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader held a news conference before Thursday?s rally on the San Antonio College campus to discuss his stance on the following issues:
Universal health care: Nader is for a universal healthcare system. ?We are the only western country without universal, acceptable health insurance.? He added that 46 million people in the United States don?t have health-care coverage.
Affordable housing: Nader said the nation is in the midst of a housing crisis with a shortfall of affordable housing exceeding 5.4 million residence. ?The current strong economy is increasing rent and home prices across the nation while many Americans, particularly low and moderate income wage earners, have seen their incomes stagnate and housing become less affordable.?
Death penalty: Nader opposes the death penalty, saying that it is not a deterrent to murder, and that it is discriminatorily applied against the poor and people of color. ?I think if Gov. Bush believes in the death penalty…then he should administer the penalty personally.?
Fluoride: Nader is against fluoridation of public water systems for the sole purpose of preventing tooth decay in children. ‘If that?s the only objective, you don?t expose all people to fluoridated water.? He urged San Antonio voters to vote against fluoridation.
Minimum wage: Nader said there are 10 million people in the United States who make the federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour, which is $2.15 less than what it was in 1968 in contemporary purchasing power. ?One out of every three full-time working people in this country do not live on the wages that they earn.?
Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader brought his message of more power for the people and less power for the big corporations to San Antonio on Thursday in a last-minute, whirlwind tour of Texas.
?There?s got to be a restoration of our government? by the people and for the people, Nader told the standing-room only audience at the McAllister Auditorium at San Antonio College.
Speaking to more than 1,200 in attendance, Nader said there?s one question they should ask every candidate running for office: ?How are you going to make me stronger??
The crowd, which included a large turn-out of young adults, gave the 66-year-old candidate a standing ovation when he took center stage. Joining Nader onstage were members of American Indian tribes, including one who beat a drum whenever the candidate scored a point with the audience.
Nader drew cheers from spectators, some holding green and white ?Ralph Nader for President? signs, as he touched on key issues: the environment, minimum wage, health care reform and the working poor. He also warned against political apathy.
?If you don?t turn onto politics, politics will turn on you,? he said.
Nader called large corporations the new kings and emperors who have the politicians in their pockets.
?Their sole concern is not in the health of the individual, but in amassing wealth,? he said.
Nader said he doesn?t accept any money from political action committees or corporate soft money.
?It?s time for citizens to move into new political reform action, which is what this candidacy represents,? he said.
Audience members appeared to receive Nader?s message enthusiastically.
?I thought the crowd responded well to everything he said,? said Elizabeth Garlow, a 20-year-old SAC freshman. ?I think the point that strikes everyone?s chord is getting the corporations out of our government.?
Kathy Armstrong, who took her 15-year-old son to Nader?s speech, said she ?liked when he went after big corporations because I?m not a big corporation person.? Armstrong, director of student life for SAC, said the crowd seemed to be a mixture of young and older adults.
Armstrong?s son Jeffrey said he thought Nader was ?an excellent speaker and that what he had to say was right on the mark.?
Jeffrey, a student at Reagan High School, said he particularly liked Nader?s comments regarding multiple choice testing and standardized tests.
?(He said) not to let it determine your future, because it doesn?t have a lot to do with actual life.?
Bexar County Green Party organizer Jonathan Hook said he saw a ?tremendous emotional response? from the audience with regard to Nader?s view on environmental issues.
Hook said the county is in a much worse environmental position than it was a decade ago.
?It?s imperative that we stop and turn it around right now,? he said.
According to the latest available CNN/USA Today Gallup poll of likely voters, Nader had 5 percent of the vote nationwide.
Republican candidate George W. Bush had 49 percent in the poll, and Democrat Al Gore had 39 percent.
Nader?s spokesman has said the Green Party candidate decided to include Texas in his tour at the last minute because polls have shown Bush leading Gore in Texas. Nader ran for president in 1996, receiving 1 percent of the vote.
Nader spent about three hours at SAC, campaigning and answering questions posed by reporters at a news conference and by audience members at the rally, before heading to Houston.
When asked whether the Green Party is extremist, Nader said: ?Not at all. Extremists are corporations that corrupt our government and hijack our democracy with cash-register politics…Extremists are corporations who poison, pillage and plunder our environment and contaminate our air and soil.?
Nader also spoke out against the minimum wage, which he said, ?No one can possibly live on.?
The Green Party of Mexico offered its support Thursday for Nader, with past party President Natalia Escudero urging San Antonio residents to vote for him.
Escudero is coordinator of international affairs for the Mexico Green Party and secondary secretary-general for the Federation of Green Parties of the Americas.
?We want to support Ralph Nader as we supported Vicente Fox, who just recently won the presidency of Mexico,? Escudero said. ?We have made (President-elect) Fox the first environment president in the history of Mexico.?