POLITICS: TRY TO GUESS WHO'S BACKING NADER

In his run for the white House, Ralph Nader is getting help from an unexpected source: Republicans. Of the $1 million that Nader has raised for his campaign so far, about $50,000 is from donors who have also given to President George W. Bush's campaign. One in 10 of Nader's biggest contributors--individuals who've written checks of $1,000 or more--are longtime GOP donors. Among the notable: Richard Egan, Bush's former ambassador to Ireland. Egan raised more than $100,000 as a Bush Pioneer in 2000 and at least $200,000 this cycle as one of the Rangers, the Bush campaign's most elite fund-raising circle. In 2001 Egan contributed $100,000 of his own money to help pay for Bush's Inauguration, while he and his family rank among the biggest contributors to the Republican Party in general, giving nearly $1 million to the GOP since 1999, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And according to Nader's campaign-finance reports, Egan, his son John and his daughter-in-law Pamela each contributed the maximum $2,000 donation to Nader's effort. Egan declined to comment to NEWSWEEK.

Another $2,000 contributor to Nader was Houston businessman and longtime Bush-family pal Nijad Fares, the son of Lebanese Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares. In 2000 Fares gave $200,000 to the Bush Inaugural fund. "Republicans are giving money to Nader because they want to prop up his candidacy," says Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

Republicans and conservative groups in battleground states including Oregon, Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan are also working to get Nader on the ballot this November. Democrats have sued to keep him off the ticket in Arizona, where, according to the state's Democratic Party, half of the 10,000 registered voters who signed petitions last month to get Nader on the ballot were Republicans. The state GOP committees in Michigan and Florida have announced efforts to collect signatures to get Nader on the ballot in those states. Meanwhile, in Oregon, two conservative groups--the Oregon Family Council and Citizens for a Sound Economy--financed phone calls to GOP voters encouraging them to attend a recent Nader nominating convention. CSE, which is headed by former Republican House majority leader Dick Armey, plans to take its campaign to other states. Nader last week rejected calls to disavow Republican efforts on his part, telling reporters that GOPers aren't doing much to help his insurgent campaign. Yet he seems to find some inspiration in his new supporters, telling the crowd at a recent rally, "I think I'll end up taking more votes away from Republicans than Democrats."