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Nader says Democrats are afraid of democracy

WASHINGTON -- Ralph Nader said yesterday that Democrats who see his independent presidential campaign as a threat to John F. Kerry's candidacy are really afraid of the democratic process.

He also had some choice words for the Congressional Black Caucus, an all-Democratic group whose members urged Nader to drop out of the race during a testy meeting at the Capitol nearly two weeks ago.

''What these people are all afraid of, the Democrats, is democracy," Nader said on NBC's ''Meet the Press." ''They're afraid of competition. They're afraid of the tradition of third parties in the 19th and early 20th centuries pushing the two parties to pay attention to the needs of the people, instead of their own careerism."

Nader, a Winsted, Conn., native, said it was ''fairly outrageous" to listen to some caucus members in the closed-door meeting when they should be discussing why the Democratic Party isn't doing more to register black voters, as the Rev. Jesse Jackson has urged. Nader said doing so would help Democrats win back the White House more than him leaving the race would. The longtime consumer activist said the Democratic-Republican party lock on the electoral system hurts the country.

Democratic Party chief Terry McAuliffe again called on Nader to quit lest he become known as the man who gave the country another four years of President Bush.

Democrats blame Nader's third-party candidacy in 2000 for Bush's narrow margin of victory over Al Gore.

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