Why Did Gonzalez Join Nader's Ticket? Presidential hopeful Ralph Nader announced Thursday that San Francisco politician Matt Gonzalez would be his running mate. The failed mayoral candidate shares his reasons for joining the independent ticket.
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Why Did Gonzalez Join Nader's Ticket?

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Why Did Gonzalez Join Nader's Ticket?

Why Did Gonzalez Join Nader's Ticket?

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This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.

You may know Ralph Nader is running again for president as an Independent. And yesterday he named his running mate. It's San Francisco lawyer Matt Gonzalez. He's a young political star there who lost a close race to become the city's mayor.

OK, Mr. Gonzalez, first up for you, an interview with my colleague, Madeleine Brand.


Matt Gonzalez, welcome to DAY TO DAY.

Mr. MATT GONZALEZ (Independent Candidate for Vice President): It's my pleasure.

BRAND: Why did you decide to take him up on this?

Mr. GONZALEZ: Well, you know, Ralph Nader is going to run whether Matt Gonzalez is his running mate or not. I thought what I would bring to it, though, if I were his running mate is I would bring an emphasis on election reform and I could cite specific things that I'd accomplished in that regard. In San Francisco we instituted rank choice voting, which is a way that you eliminate the spoiler problem altogether, because it doesn't matter how many candidates are in a race; you get a majority outcome because you've asked voters to rank their choices, first, second, third, etc. And so that's one of the key things I'll be talking about.

BRAND: What are some of the other issues that you're passionate about and that you want to bring up during the campaign?

Mr. GONZALEZ: Well, certainly the war in Iraq. It's incredible to me that Senator McCain is putting out there this idea of almost perpetual war, but Senator Obama, when given an opportunity to commit himself to getting American soldiers out of there by January 2013, would not commit to that. That's 2013. He said, no, he can't commit to that.

So what he's really saying to ride the wave of discontent with this war is he wants to get combat troops out a year after he's elected, but then he includes rhetoric that he's going to keep soldiers to deal with counterterrorism and strikes at al-Qaida.

And there are a number of public policy groups, including the Center for American Progress, that has said that, you know, what Obama is saying would commit at least tens of thousands of soldiers in Iraq. I don't think that's what the American people want.

BRAND: Well, as you probably know very well, there isn't a lot of good will out there for Ralph Nader among the liberal Democrats who once supported him. A lot of people think he's a spoiler and they blame him for costing Al Gore the election back in 2000. Are you afraid that because there is this anger out there against Ralph Nader, that your arguments will fall on deaf ears?

Mr. GONZALEZ: It could be, but I mean I always have difficulty with this notion that the Democrats, you know, invoke Ralph Nader's name for this spoiling argument. But it's curious to me that they never invoke Ross Perot's name as a spoiler.

BRAND: Well, what if it gets down to a very close race between John McCain and whoever is the Democratic nominee? What if you and Ralph Nader find yourself in a position of being the spoiler again?

Mr. GONZALEZ: Well, I invite the other candidates to win over those voters who want to vote for us. They should earn that support. We can't force anybody to vote for us.

One of the things, I think, that progressives particularly are confused about is that we seem to not understand how it is that we can keep voting for liberal Democrats that are going to fix problems for us, and then they get elected and everything stays the same.

Do you remember the sentiment when Nancy Pelosi was, you know, promising, boy, if she could take back Congress or the Dems took back Congress, they'd get us out of the war in Iraq? I mean, even Cindy Sheehan left the party just fed up with the rhetoric and the lack of action.

BRAND: Realistically, Ralph Nader and you don't stand a chance of being elected president and vice president, so are you hoping that you're going to use this opportunity as a bully pulpit and as a way to get the Democratic candidates to move further to the left?

Mr. GONZALEZ: Well, I think that's certainly something that is true. But I think it's also important that when you enter into any campaign that you engage voters not from a cynical point of view but really from the point of view that says, look, here are the issues and you should vote for the best candidate, because that's what we want ultimately.

And if people want to vote for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or John McCain they should vote for the candidate that they want. I mean, we certainly endorse that. Well, any voter that wants to vote for us should be allowed to do it and they shouldn't be scared away from that.

BRAND: That's Matt Gonzales. He's a vice presidential candidate, along with Ralph Nader, running as an Independent.

CHADWICK: And Madeleine Brand, thank you for that interview.

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