With the two main US presidential candidates in a dead-heat Wednesday, only five days away from election day, Democrats were avidly courting supporters of maverick Green Party candidate Ralph Nader.
Nader, running to the left of Democratic candidate Al Gore, could siphon enough votes from Gore to hand the closest White House race in 40 years to his Republican rival, George W. Bush.
Although Nader scores only about three percent in national polls, with Bush holding a narrow three-point lead over the vice president, even that small a figure could affect Gore's chances of winning the White House.
"I'm asking the people who are thinking about voting for Ralph, think about the issues that matter to you, like environmental protection, consumer protection, right to choose ... all of those will be threatened if governor Bush is elected," Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman warned on NBC's "Today Show."
A 66-year-old lawyer who has spent 35 years battling what he sees as government and corporate abuses of power, Nader is popular in a handful of vote-rich states such as California, where his poll numbers have hit nine percent.
So far he has refused to throw his weight behind the Democratic ticket.
Lieberman was being interviewed from a firehouse in Hollywood, Florida, one of the key states in the battle for the presidency to be decided November 7.
Although traditionally Republican, Gore has made considerable inroads in the southern state -- governed by Bush's brother Jeb -- with his plan to beef up Social Security benefits for the many senior citizens retired there.
But Jeb Bush, reflecting the increasingly stinging nature of the fight for the White House, attacked Gore's campaign to woo voters over to the Democrats.
"He's attacking and saying some things that just aren't true and I think people need to know these things aren't true and the guy who's saying them does lack a little bit of credibility," the Florida governor said Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America" -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)