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Ralph Nader Rejoins the Tea Parties

Benjamin Sarlin talks to Ralph Nader, who’s celebrating at least the 20th anniversary of his transition from interesting public advocate to self-defeating scold, about health care. Nader, predictably — and with a lack of understanding of congressional politics that must be willful — blames Barack Obama for selling out liberals. But one thing that separates Nader from other liberal critics of the health care compromise, like Howard Dean, is his alliance with the conservative activists who now lead the Tea Party movement.

In 2004, when Democrats — rather understandably — were trying to make it hard for Nader to make it onto state ballots, the candidate got unexpected help from Citizens for a Sound Economy — the group that would later split into FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity. In Oregon, one of the states where Nader voters nearly helped throw the election to Bush in 2000, CSE enlisted its volunteers to collect signatures for Nader.

“We saw it as an obvious opportunity to split the liberal base in a swing state,” Matt Kibbe, CSE’s president and CEO told ABC News.

Kibbe said the effort to bolster Nader’s popularity is also part of a plan to force Kerry to compete for liberal votes, thus complicating any efforts to appear more moderate.

Kibbe is now the president of FreedomWorks. Way back in 2004, Howard Dean actually debated Nader about his decision to take this kind of help from conservative activists. It’s an interesting footnote now — probably more interesting than Nader’s predictable backseat whining and scolding.

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