February 25th, 2008
03:45 PM ET
10 years ago

Blitzer: How much time should Nader get?

 How seriously should Ralph Nader's candidacy be taken?

How seriously should Ralph Nader's candidacy be taken?

With Ralph Nader now in the presidential race, there’s a serious question those of us in the news media have to ask: How much air time do we give him?

He made his announcement Sunday on NBC's “Meet the Press,” where host Tim Russert gave him about 15 minutes to make his case.

I also have interviewed Nader on many occasions, most recently on Late Edition on Sunday, Febuary 3. He spent about ten minutes with me discussing the possibility of his throwing his hat into the ring. I had the impression that he was again on the verge of doing so – just as he did in 2000 (when he won 2.7 percent of the popular vote) and 2004 (when he won only 0.4 percent.)

In 2000, he did win 96,837 votes in Florida – a state that George W. Bush carried by only 537 votes. Many of those Nader votes no doubt would have gone to Al Gore if Nader had not been on the ballot.

In that interview with me earlier this month, he branded Hillary Clinton a “panderer.” He clearly liked Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards but with both of them out of the contest, he appeared a lot more eager to announce.

I also had the impression that he was struggling a bit in going after Barack Obama, who, if elected, would be the nation’s first African-American president. But he did say this to me: “He’s too abstract and too general. He comes on as a constitutional law specialist, but he offers nothing to hold this outlaw presidency of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney accountable…And he’s not speaking out.”

Now, Nader is in and is not holding back in his criticism of Obama. (As you can imagine, he finds John McCain totally unacceptable.)

I would be interested in getting your thoughts on the question I posed at the top – how much air time should we give him in the course of this upcoming general campaign? How seriously should we take his candidacy? Will he be a credible third party candidate along the lines of Ross Perot back in 1992 or will he simply be a marginal candidate with no real chance of winning?

Let me know what you think. And thanks.

- CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (349 Responses)
  1. JR

    All candidates should get equal air time. If Nadar really has as little chance to win as people say, then it won't matter that he gets the same amount of time as the Democrats and Republicans. However, the political process consists of more than the red of Republicans and the blue of Democrats. The white of the independents needs to be heard also, no matter how unpopular.

    February 25, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  2. Dan Manes

    How about this? Cover the news that you and the other professional journalists at CNN think is newsworthy. If Ralph Nader does something newsworthy, cover it. Clearly, "newsworthy" is subjective, but it's definitely not the same thing as "entertaining", as so often seems to be the case with corporate-owned media. Anyway, the answer to your question of how much time CNN should give Ralph Nader? It's not my job to answer that question but certainly no less than it gives to Brittney Spears or Paris Hilton.

    -Dan Manes, San Diego, CA

    February 25, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. DeVone

    to be fair he must get some time, but he is just a distraction to
    the race, a thief

    February 25, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  4. Sam Wolf

    Years ago in some marathon (NY?), somebody jumped into the race a mile or so from the finish line. Was that fair to the athletes who had trained so long and had run so hard (26+ grueling miles)?

    No. Ralph Nader is a slimeball, has nothing meaningful to say and deserves no time or attention.

    February 25, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  5. Pam Maley

    In this, the first day after Ralph Nader announced his run, he has had quite a lot of news time, and he has used that time to viciously and dismissively attack both Democratic candidates. In my opinion, one who waits until the last minute and then enters the race only to spew negatives about the candidates who have been speaking to Americans for months, deserves no air time. I hope that the media declines to give him a platform for his destructive egomania.

    February 25, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  6. Alyx

    Everyone who runs deserves airtime, and I find it very sad that only now when the race is essentially Clinton-Obama-McCain are media representatives asking "how much airtime should we give a particular candidate"? Before John Edwards dropped out of the race, he cited the lack of media attention given to his platform, but this question was not posed then. If you ask me, your question is too little, too late.

    February 25, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. L. Fields

    Nader's popularity is, as they say, "statistically insignificant" and his candidacy should be taken about as seriously.

    February 25, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Steve

    Why should he get any time until he is on the ballot in some states? Anybody can say they are running for President. 28 people were on the Democratic Presidential Primary Ballot in Arizona – how many of them did you talk about? And, at least they were on the ballot.

    February 25, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. Shrikant Phadke

    Give him ZERO time or negative amount of time if it is possible to do so. He is a spoiler. He clearly destroyed Al Gore in 2000 and now he is about to destroy Barrak Obama or Hillary Clinton (whoever gets the nomination) in 2008. Clearly Ralph Nader dislikes both democrats and republicans --- why doesn't he just go along with the lesser of the two evils which has to be democrats in anybody's eyes, tsy out of the race and not spoil it for the democrats.

    February 25, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  10. Paul R. Thornhill

    Nader should get as much air time as he has in the polls.

    February 25, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  11. Mike Carlson

    With all due respect, Wolf, I think the larger concern is how much you have been choosing to insert yourself into the narrative of these campaigns. If you were a more professional journalist, you would stop making the center of each debate and/or situations such as this one, an excuse to put yourself in the limelight – and instead, do your job, by covering the news. Ralph Nader has no legitimacy even being discussed on a national platform, until he secures all of the necessities to be a part of a national campaign. Until that happens, no one should care what he does. It's just an opportunity to create hype or added conflict – one that you typically choose to embrace, much to the chagrin of your viewing public. My advice: Be a professional before people stop watching you. Focus on topics that matter and debate questions that are pertinent, not polarizing, before all of us switch to another network outright. I've seen correspondents on E! News that are less self-absorbed and more objective.

    February 25, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  12. bob

    I'd like to take this opportunity and forum to announce my candidacy for President.
    CNN should give me AT LEAST as much coverage as you give Ralph Nader.

    bob roswell, ga

    PS. I expect ZERO coverage Wolf

    February 25, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  13. Raj

    None at all! The man is a caricature of himself..

    February 25, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. Bob

    Nader is good guy and honest but this coountry always vote same crook and lier , shame on us,that why we get scew up by NAFTA FIASCO 30 million illegal running wild

    February 25, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  15. Patrick

    Wolf, Nader will be a marginal candidate, but history will markedly remember his candicacies. His and Perot's willingness to challenge the status quo of a 2-party system that has completely failed this country. Every 4 years we are allotted the option to choose between the lesser of two evils. Doesn't, no shouldn't democracy offer more? What is it about the Democratic-Republican stranglehold we have been under for so many years? We once had Whigs, Democratic Republicans(sweet irony:), etc. So, why must these two parties continually be placed in the feeding tube of the conscience of this country?

    February 25, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  16. Matt B

    Please do NOT give Nader air time! Ralph knows that his spoiler potential is the only way his out-of-step ideas will see the light of day.

    I remember his platform when he ran during the Gore/Bush election. Back then he said either way you vote, it's the same thing: "Republicrats" was his generic term for Democrats and Republicans. After he spoiled the Democratic victory and we endured 8 years of Bush administration failures, can he reallty claim that both parties would have been the same?

    Al Gore would have out-greened the Green Party by ten fold. I voted for Nader once, because I wanted change. Now I see that most Green party principles match the agenda of the Democrats. Nader is the past. The only real canidate of change is BARACK OBAMA!

    Butt out Nader, you better not ruin this for our country!!!

    February 25, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  17. Stephanie Zanotti

    No, Nader should NOT get equal airtime. He is not a viable candidate and it's unfair to the other candidates who have worked tirelessly on this history making campaign. He's just trying to stir up the pot and it's annoying. Cafferty's remarks about Nader spoiling Al Gore's run and the 1 trillion dollar war hit the nail on the head.

    February 25, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  18. Christina

    Nothing – as should be the policy for Bloomberg or anybody else who would decide to jump into the race now, a year after Obama and Clinton started and after all of the candidates, Republican and Democratic have worked so hard to get to this point.

    That said, it hasn't been fair for the media not to have given Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee the same kind of coverage – they have been in the race and they are still in. The media should have also given more coverage to Biden, Dodd, Edwards, and the others who have since dropped out.

    February 25, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  19. Raj

    Zero airtime. The reason for airtime is to air views of realistic national candidates. It may be unfortunate that he does not have any realistic national chances, but that's the way it is.
    Another option is to base it on national poll numbers once the final race is decided. If he is less than a specific % of the national polls, he needs to be excluded (similar to Germany, where if a party does not acquire a percentage of national vote, restrictions are placed on the candidate / party).
    The need to air legitimate views of all legitimate candidates needs to be balanced by the candidates need to run/ potential to win / effect on diluting other candidates discussions / distractions.
    For all Naders ranting about the other candidates not doing much, I didn't see much of him the last eightyears either!

    February 25, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  20. Michael M.


    While Ralph has his heart in the right place it's time for his to stick to what he does best. What that exactly is we're never quite sure.

    If you're really looking to give him air time I'd suggest you offer him the ooportunity to comment everytime you quote Ron Paul.

    Michael M.

    Toronto, ON.

    February 25, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. Prince L

    Answer: None.

    February 25, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  22. Carthage

    Nader got 0.4% of the vote the last time around. How much air time is Gravel getting? Ron Paul? I've already seen more about Nader than about these two combined...

    February 25, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  23. Patrick Kelly

    Nader is not a viable candidate. He has as much chance as Lyndon LaRouche ever did. I can't help but feel that this is simply ego. If Nader actually cared about the country, he would make more noise during the time between elections. Is he hoping for government money to help his "campaign?" Don't give him a minute. His day has come and gone. His 15min of fame is over – let someone new shout some "crazy" I really enjoy some of the other candidates that have dropped out – put them back on. They still have entertaining ideas. Nader is too many generations away from relevant.

    February 25, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  24. Don

    Ralph Nader should get zero air time.

    February 25, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  25. Ralph Gravel

    Give him as much time as you do for Gravel, who has just as much of a chance of winning.

    February 25, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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