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Inside Politics

Nader announces running mate

Congressional Black Caucus wants Nader out of race

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• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry
America Votes 2004
Ralph Nader
Peter Camejo

(CNN) -- Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on Monday named Peter Camejo, a Green Party activist, as his running mate in the 2004 election -- an announcement that came on the same day he faced renewed pressure to drop out of the race.

Camejo, 63, was the Green Party candidate for governor of California during last year's special recall election. Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger won that race.

"The central issue in this campaign is the war in Iraq," Camejo said, adding that the issue goes further than opposing how the war is waged -- which he said is the position of the presumptive Democratic nominee, Sen. John Kerry.

"It was wrong to support Saddam Hussein for 10 years. It was wrong to give him weapons of mass destruction," he said. "Our policies are a continuation of one error upon another."

Camejo, a first-generation American whose family is from Venezuela, was the Socialist Workers' Party candidate for president in 1976. Earlier this year, he reluctantly accepted the Green Party's request to be on its presidential primary ballots this year.

Nader tapped Camejo on the eve of the Green Party National Convention -- which begins Wednesday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In primary voting, Camejo had 114.5 committed delegates to 240.5 for David Cobb, an attorney who managed Nader's 2000 presidential campaign -- as the Green Party candidate -- in Texas.

Nader had 64.5 delegates to the convention, although he had withdrawn his name from consideration. Another 173.5 delegates were uncommitted.

Camejo did not formally withdraw as the Green Party's presidential candidate at Monday's news conference, but he said he expects the majority of Green Party members to back Nader.

Camejo said that he would work at the convention "to keep the Greens united." Nader said he would not interfere with any Green Party campaign, but if the party should decide to back his candidacy, he "would be happy to get their endorsement."

Congressional Black Caucus

Meanwhile, members of the Congressional Black Caucus have scheduled a meeting with Nader Tuesday, when they will ask him to drop out of the race.

"Our message to Ralph Nader is that if he wants to see this country go on a progressive path as opposed to a backwards path, then he should get out of the race, period. Simple. Immediately," said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, the chairman of the caucus.

Some Democrats blame Nader for Al Gore's loss in the 2000 presidential election, saying the votes he won could have garnered enough electoral votes for Gore to win the White House. Nader won 2.7 percent of the popular vote in 2000.

Nader said he was not aware of the caucus' agenda for the meeting.

"My understanding is they wanted to discuss subjects of common interest," Nader said after announcing his vice presidential candidate. "I'll have to call up the congressman's office to make sure that's clear.

"When I met with John Kerry, he had the courtesy not to even raise the issue (of dropping out of the race). I'll make sure before we meet they agree they're not going to bring it up," Nader added.

Camejo also joined Nader's battle against what he called "a false campaign" to make Nader responsible for George W. Bush's presidential win in 2000. Camejo said the problem was that "we don't have free elections here."

"We don't have run-offs," he said. "We have one of the worst, if not the worst electoral systems in the world."

Camejo is currently chair and co-founder of Progressive Asset Management Inc., a broker-dealer firm that promotes what it describes as socially responsible investments.

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