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Nader again is denied entry to debate

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ST. LOUIS — Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader was once again refused entry to the U.S. presidential debate Tuesday, prompting the longtime consumer advocate to threaten another lawsuit.

"Once again, they violated the civil-rights law, and once again we may have to sue them," Nader said, referring to the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates. "By the time we finish with this crooked debate commission, it will have a lower approval rating than the worst used-car dealer."

Nader, who was polling at six percent in the latest Reuters/MSNBC daily poll, had filed a lawsuit against debate organizers just hours earlier, challenging its decision to refuse him entry to the first debate two weeks ago in Boston.

"It will be the last debate by a commission that has been given a monopoly by the media and political parties," Nader said.

It was after he addressed about 800 supporters Tuesday that Nader said police at Washington University in St. Louis turned him away, saying he did not have credentials to enter the debate site.

"One police guy said 'You cannot come in here' and took me by the elbow and told me I had to go back," Nader said.

Nader said that before he left the campus, officers consulted with their superiors and a representative of the debate commission, prompting Nader to say the decision to refuse him entry was "clearly political exclusion."

"We all had the same badge around our necks which was supposed to allow us to get on the campus," Nader said, saying that others in his entourage passed unchallenged.

Fred Volkmann, the university's vice chancellor for public affairs, told Reuters that Nader presented a numbered pass distributed only to people affiliated with the university.

"That would not seem logical, since he does not receive a salary and is not an enrolled student at our university," Volkmann said.

The debate commission in September excluded Nader and Reform Party nominee Pat Buchanan from participation in the three scheduled debates, citing their failure to secure the support of at least 15 percent of voters. While Nader is at six percent, Buchanan has been polling at about one percent in the Reuters/MSNBC polls.