PORTLAND (AP) – An unapologetic Ralph Nader on Tuesday blasted Democrats who have tried to keep him off the presidential ballot in Maine and said that a vote for John Kerry represents a vote for more “war in Iraq.”

Nader chastised liberals and progressives for throwing their support behind Kerry, saying their “unconditional surrender” has allowed the Democrat to mimic President Bush’s position by becoming more hawkish on Iraq.

He also criticized Democrats who are continuing to try to keep him off the presidential ballot in Maine. Democrats have fought all the way to the state supreme court, and arguments will be heard today.

“I say to the Democrats in Maine … shame on you. You’re disgracing yourself. You’re showing what hypocrites you are,” Nader said.

Even as Nader visited the state, Greens and Democrats were urging Mainers not to vote for Nader in what polls show is a tight presidential race.

Four years ago, Nader took 5.7 percent of the vote as a Green candidate.

A lone demonstrator stood outside a Nader rally attended by about 65 people with a sign that said, “A vote for Nader equals four more years.”

“If you vote for Nader you will undermine Kerry and get four more years of environmental degradation,” said Holly Travers of Portland. “Every vote is precious. I don’t want them to waste their votes.”

It’s an emotional issue for many Nader supporters, and one of them tried to shout down Green legislative candidate Elizabeth Trice as she explained to reporters how she respects Nader but opposes his candidacy.

“The Republi-crats don’t get it. They’re all liars,” a Nader supporter shouted. He repeatedly bellowed out “creeps!”

Inside, Nader refuted the notion that he is a spoiler in the race. He said he wished Democrats would “stop defining spoiler as anyone who takes votes from (Kerry) who isn’t a Republican.”

Nader outlined his platform of pulling troops out of Iraq, boosting wages and expanding access to health care.

He criticized the mindset of those who are voting for the “least worst” of the two major party candidates. He said people should vote their conscience or else they’ll always be voting for the “least worst” candidate.

“We’re all held hostage by this two-party, winner-takes-all dictatorship,” Nader said. But he said fear of losing should not prevent people from trying to take back government from the major parties.

Nader didn’t let Bush off the hook, either, saying Bush cares not the least for American workers. “All he cares about is to turn the war on terror into a political advantage,” Nader said.

After the rally, Nader signed copies of his book before continuing his five-day New England campaign by traveling to the University of New Hampshire and the University of Vermont.


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