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article imageNader Makes 21 Speeches in 15 Hours, 'Massachusetts Marathon' Breaks Guinness Record

By Stephen Dohnberg     Oct 26, 2008 in Politics
Ralph Nader made 21 speeches in 15 hours, travelled 365 miles through MA in what has been dubbed the "Massachusetts Marathon".The 74 year old independent presidential candidate dedicated the Guinness Record breaking run to childhood hero Lou Gehrig.
The Massachusetts Marathon
On Oct 23rd the Nader campaign had contacted me to let me know that Ralph Nader would be making 21 speeches throughout the state of Massachusetts during a one day period on Sat. Oct 25.
In doing so, Nader has also found himself eligible for a spot in the Guinness Book or World records. This successful campaign action should garner Nader some national attention, as the mainstream media has largely ignored his campaign.
Speaking to an AP reporter, Ryan Mehta, a Nader campaign spokesperson said the, "'Massachusetts Marathon' aims to raise awareness because two-thirds of the nation doesn’t know Nader is running as an independent. The campaign speech record would be a bonus.”
Jason Kafoury confirmed with the Guinness Records Society, Thursday, that Nader would have to make 15 speeches to break the record for Most Campaign Speeches in a 24 hour period.
But Nader, never one to settle for status quo, would “campaign in 21 cities and towns across Massachusetts in one day.” according to correspondence from the Nader Campaign Team. He also spoke in a different municipal jurisdiction at each stop.
With events scheduled for Boston, Cambridge, Southborough,,Concord, Waltham, Watertown, Newton, Somerville, Medford, Arlington, Lexington, , Worcester, Auburn, Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Northampton, West Springfield, Westfield, Stockbridge and Sheffield, his organizers aimed to help him make “315 minutes of speeches”, and had travelled a total of approximately 365 miles by car.
The Scheduled speeches were to be 10 minutes in length where Nader touched on issues such as the Wall Street "bailout", single payer health care, the bloated military budget, unfair hurdles to participatory democracy, the Iraq War, and veterans issues, among others. Stops were held at at public locations, farmer's markets, coffee shops, and campuses, and included musicians, artists, and other events in advance of each appearance.
Organizers and volunteer's greatest concern was "to keep him on schedule".
As of 5:53 pm EDT I reached Mehta, who informed me that they had been successfully keeping a tight schedule and were only off by 12 minutes.
At 10:50 pm I spoke with Hubbardstown resident Aaron Keith, a web designer and co-owner of a Zendiko Web Studios who attended three consecutive rallies in Concord, Watertown, and at Clark U in Worcester. Numbers increased at each event from 50 in Concord, to about 220 people at Clark U. Keith was motivated by his attendance at the first rally and made his way to two more.
A former Democrat and Kerry supporter in 2004, Keith credits Ron Paul with expanding his political awareness this cycle, but believes that Paul's staunch Libertarianism makes Ralph Nader his preferred candidate. "I like the Libertarian point of view, but I do believe government can play a positive role, and that's where Ralph Nader comes in for me." Keith explained.
Nader, 74, is on his third campaign run since 2000. When asked if the schedule was too much for him. "When you’re seeking justice, as I have for so many years, it’s invigorating, not fatiguing," he quipped to an AP reporter.
Nader, in a press release, announced that the marathon campaign run was dedicated to his boyhood hero, Lou Gehrig. Gehrig, known as "the iron man of baseball" and his "his 2130 consecutive games played provided a great example of stamina" to Nader.
Nader departed from his hometown of Winstead. CT at 7:15 am. The tour officially began at 8:15 am at the Westfield, MA Dunkin Donuts and moved on to Boston for his next engagement.
Checking in with volunteers over the course of the day, they reported that everything was going smoothly, at 11:30 pm, the campaign was only about 25 minutes from the last designated rendezvous
Nader completed his campaign run and finished his ‘Massachusetts Marathon” with a speech at a house party in Sheffield, MA just before 1 am.
At 12:18 I spoke with Jason Kafoury, the Nader for President National Campaign Director, who reported that Nader was just pulling into the final Sheffield stop. At that time approximately 40 people were there and many more were expected to make their way to greet the exhausted but upbeat team.
An energized Kafoury said that "the Guinness Record is within our reach." I asked him to confirm the turnout numbers based on field reports from volunteers. Each of the 21 stops ranged from 50 to 250 people. During the course of the ‘Marathon’, the campaign signed on volunteers, distributed literature, and raised thousands of dollars in small donations.
Kafoury should be rightfully proud as the “Marathon” was organized on short notice. As the National Campaign Director, he coordinated heroic feats with a dedicated team of volunteers, and made the campaign a success on a budget that is a fraction of the hundreds of millions of dollars thrown at the campaign by the Republicans and Democrats in a two and a half year election run.
Where approximately $53 million was spent on hosting Democratic National Convention - according to paperwork filed to the Federal Election Commission, the entire Nader campaign expects it’s receipts will total approximately $4 million.
The $53 million hosting figure doesn’t include prospective security costs, which were expected to exceed $100 million dollars at both the RNC and DNC.
The Nader Campaign
Ralph Nader Addresses  open the Debates Rally CO
Ralph Nader Addresses 'open the Debates Rally, Denver,CO, Aug 27
Stephen Dohnberg
Nader, the social justice activist and consumer advocate hasn’t been sitting on his hands during this campaign, it simply appears the mainstream media has chosen to pay less attention to his campaign than ever.
Denied access to debate with Obama and McCain by the tightly guarded and secretive Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), despite garnering ballot access in 45 states and official write –in status in 4 remaining states. The only state where they were denied any ballot options was Oklahoma, which does not count write-in votes. The Nader Campaign has encouraged voters to write his name in anyway, as they join forces with other ballot access legal movements.
The Nader campaign has been holding ‘Open the Debates’ rallies in cities across the United States.
Events at Denver University during the week of the Democratic National Convention, and at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis during the week of the Republican National Convention drew considerable numbers, estimated to have drawn between 4 and 6 thousand people and featured speakers such as Sean Penn, Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate Rosa Clemente, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, and even a video uplink that included Libertarian Presidential Candidate Bob Barr.
By Oct 22, Nader had campaigned in his 50th state, Montana, and on Oct 23 made it to the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. for a debate with Constitution Party Candidate Chuck Baldwin – a debate event sponsored by ballot access advocate Christina Tobin. Christina Tobin is the 27 year old Founder and President of Free and Equal Elections and has worked for 12 years as an activist to ensure fair ballot access for candidates.
While many point to Nader as a “spoiler” in the 2000 Gore/Bush election, Al Gore even admitted that Nader’s run had nothing to do with his loss, citing a number of factors, including his own inability to hold his home state of Tennessee, voting fraud in Florida, and the Supreme Court for his loss.
A CNN/Time poll indicated Nader at 6 percent in states such as Michigan, and when included in nation-wide polling, such as an AP poll released on June 6, Nader was polling at 6 percent when included with the Obama-McCain metric. Another Time/CNN poll showed Nader had reached poll strength 8 percent in New Mexico, 7 percent in Colorado, 7 percent in Pennsylvania, and 6 percent in Nevada.
With the official CPD debates long over and less than 10 days left until election day, it’s an exercise in futility to speculate how substantive the debates might have been if the other four candidates that had obtained access to enough state ballots (making them theoretically competitive) had been allowed to share the stage with Obama and McCain.
The presence of Cynthia McKinney (Green), Chuck Baldwin (Constitution), Bob Barr (Libertarian), and Nader (independent), might have made the debates more than just talking points interviews with moderators, but a spirited interplay of ideas.
For those who are thinking ahead to the senate races of 2010 and Presidential race of 2012, it might be a call for those looking to the next election cycle to start acting now.
Ralph Nader closed the Denver 'Open the Debates' rally with the proverb, "Those who know,and do not act, do not know".
#2 Nader Addresses  Open the Debates  Rally  CO
#2 Nader Addresses 'Open the Debates' Rally, Denver, CO, Aug 27. "Those who know, but do not do, do not know"
Stephen Dohnberg
Note: an interview with this reporter is tentatively scheduled shortly
For full access to the 1,485 page FEC report on DNC expenditures alone, visit : http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site36/2008/1016/20081016_094057_FEC_Form_4.pdf
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