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Inside Politics

Nader blasts 'unpatriotic corporations'

Bush taking on critics

Ralph Nader speaks Monday at the National Press Club in Washington.
Ralph Nader speaks Monday at the National Press Club in Washington.

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Stay with CNN-USA for reactions and analysis all evening to the Ralph Nader candidacy -- and for live updates on the run-up to Tuesday's primary in Utah and caucuses in Hawaii and Idaho.
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Ralph Nader outlines his platform at the National Press Club.
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CNN's Kelly Wallace on John Kerry's challenge to President Bush for a debate.
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CNN's Dan Lothian on John Edwards' message about jobs and trade.
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UPCOMING PRIMARIES

Tuesday, February 24: Hawaii, Idaho Democratic caucuses; Utah primary

Sunday, February 29: Puerto Rico Republican primary

"Super Tuesday," March 2: Primaries in California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Georgia; caucuses in Minnesota

When is your primary? For more key dates in the 2004 election season, see our special America Votes 2004 Election Calendar
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- White House hopeful Ralph Nader issued a stinging indictment of corporate America Monday, while the top two Democrats in the presidential race wooed voters in New York and President Bush entered the campaign fray.

"Unpatriotic corporations abandon our country and shift industries abroad, along with what is left of their allegiance to our country and our community," Nader, a longtime consumer advocate, charged at a news conference at the National Press Club, where he also described government agencies as "indentured servants" for corporate interests.

In his speech, Nader, who announced his candidacy as an independent on Sunday, took aim at President Bush's policies and also faulted Democrats for criticizing his entry into the race.(Full story)

As Nader outlined his platform, Democratic Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina campaigned in New York for their party's presidential nomination.

New York is one of 10 states taking part in the critical "Super Tuesday" lineup next week. With 1,151 delegates up for grabs and 10 state contests, "Super Tuesday" is the single biggest day on the Democratic nomination calendar. (CNN.com's interactive Election Calendar)

Three states -- Utah, Idaho and Hawaii -- hold contests Tuesday, but those events have largely been overshadowed by "Super Tuesday" a week later. (CNN.com's interactive Primary Explainer)

For his part, Bush delivered a speech Monday night in which he took on his critics.(Full story)

Earlier, Bush made a passing reference to the campaign Monday when he greeted the nation's governors at the White House.

"I fully understand it is going to be the year of the sharp elbow and the quick tongue, but my pledge to you is we will continue to work with you," Bush told the governors.(Full story)

The race for the White House took a new twist Sunday with Nader's announcement that he was a candidate.(Full story) Nader, who will turn 70 this month, ran as a Green Party candidate in 1996 and 2000.

Monday, he rejected that he was a "spoiler" as charged by some Democrats, saying the country would benefit by having a broader debate on the issues.

"I think those who use the word 'spoiler' need to re-examine their otherwise steadfast commitment to civil liberties, to choice, to freedom," he said.

Nader's announcement was widely watched by Democrats, many of whom blame him for siphoning off votes in Florida in the 2000 election that might have gone to Democratic nominee Al Gore, who lost the state and the overall election in a split decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Edwards, Kerry in New York

Meanwhile, Kerry and Edwards focused on winning votes in the Empire State, which holds its primary on March 2, along with nine other states.

Kerry, who has won 16 of 18 state contests, spoke to a crowd in Harlem where he hit Bush for the speech the president is to deliver tonight.

"We have George Bush on the run," Kerry said. "He is going to go out and start their campaign tonight before we even have a nominee for the Democratic Party."

Kerry also criticized the Bush-Cheney campaign for what he described as attacks on his patriotism. Republicans have questioned some of Kerry's vote on defense and national security matters.

"Those who never fought in a war think they have a leg up on us Democrats who did because they're somehow stronger on defense because they embraced every system that was ever proposed," Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran, told reporters.

Kerry said the fact that he didn't support every defense system was no reason to suggest he was weak on national security.

Edwards met with union workers in New York, focusing again on labor issues and trade, issues that helped him place a strong second in last week's Wisconsin primary.

Edwards has made trade a main issue in his campaign, promising to end tax breaks for U.S. companies that move jobs overseas.

And Edwards -- who is trying to win the endorsement of former presidential candidate Howard Dean -- urged Democratic voters not to turn to Nader.

"If you look at the basis of Nader's candidacy, his life has ben spent fighting on consumer issues," Edwards said. "His life has been spent fighting for the little guy. I have spent a great deal of my life doing the same thing and I think a lot of the voters will find me appealing on the same issues."

CNN's Candy Crowley, Dan Lothian, Mike Roselli and Kelly Wallace contributed to this report.


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