WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) – Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate and independent presidential hopeful, urged supporters Sunday to help spread his message of fighting corporate control in Washington.

“The door is closed. It’s a corporation government,” he said. “We’ve got to get it back.”

Nader, speaking to about 100 supporters in downtown Waterbury, said Democratic presidential contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain fail to talk about what he said is the extent of corporate power in the federal government.

“What are these people running for?” he asked. “To get to the White House to get their orders from their corporate paymasters.”

Nader, 74, urged his audience to take back control of government by stepping up as volunteers, providing free technical expertise and contributing to independent political campaigns such as his.

He promised to highlight issues, such as single-payer health insurance and cracking down on corporate crime, that he says the Democratic and Republican candidates refuse to discuss.

As the Green Party nominee in 2000, Nader won 3 percent of the vote in 2000. Many Democrats blamed him for drawing votes from Democrat Al Gore and helping put George W. Bush in the White House.

In 2004, Nader ran as an independent and his name appeared on the ballot in 34 states. He won just 0.3 percent of the vote.

His campaign says the Nader ticket, which includes running mate Matt Gonzalez, a San Francisco lawyer and former member of the city’s Board of Supervisors, is on the ballot in New Mexico. Supporters are gathering signatures to get on the ballot in 15 states, including Connecticut, according to the campaign.

Nader’s campaign said it has raised $650,000 nationwide.

Nader on Sunday also criticized the size of the defense budget, particularly the amount spent on the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Money would be better spent fixing domestic problems, such as health care, education and public works, he said.

Nader also advocated imposing taxes on industries that pollute and increasing taxes on tobacco and liquor. And he called for a sales tax on the purchase of corporate securities, while acknowledging that the chances are slim that lawmakers would approve it.

“Oh, they’d never want to tax Wall Street because Wall Street is pumping a lot of money into their campaigns,” he said.

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AP-ES-04-27-08 2042EDT

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