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. Ed in AZ

    Nader deserves as much coverage as Ross Perot received in 1992, who took away a much bigger share of the votes - oh, wait a minute, that was okay then because it benefited the Clintons. Enough of the whining about third-party candidates. If a major-party candidate is so pathetic that he needs to rely on the 0.4% of the electorate that Nader is going to get, then he should join Hillary who will be baking cookies back in New York state soon..

    February 25, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  2. Brian

    Let's face the facts; if Nadar was not running in 2000 Gore would be our president and the world would be a much better place for it. Yes, I'm bitter and I feel that it's justified.

    However, I do agree with Nadar that his voice should be heard – as should any individual interested in the presidency. Of course, we must keep this in the context of the outdated Electoral College. If the US simply went on the popular vote then there would be no issue with three, nine or thiry candidates. But, the truth is that this election will come down to only a handful of states (FL, OH, PA, etc.) and the anti-Republican vote gets diluted (to a greater extent) when the Green or Indenpendent party put forward attractive candidates. It's unfortunate, but true.

    Again, I think Nadar's voice should be heard...but only after the Electoral College is eliminated. My anti-McCann vote will go the Democrats not because they're necessarily the best for the job, but because that's the only way my voice will be heard.

    Do the Repulbicans plan to introduce the delegate system and Electoral College in Iraq?!?

    February 25, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. gordon shapley


    I live in Fort Erie and enjoy my retirement here- i worked in Batavia for many years.

    Mr Nader is very self spoken and intelligent but his voice means not too much now-his time is past.

    No one would know why he needs a little attention -he is only helping John McCain in a minor way..

    Great job Wolf -we watch you every day-regards Gordon

    February 25, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  4. Barry

    Stay home, Ralph. Do the country a favor. Take up gardening or shuffleboard and stay out of the way of real candidates.

    February 25, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  5. Jed

    Significant candidates should get equal coverage. I would define "significant" as one who can get at least 5% in the national poll.

    February 25, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. Zach Farrow

    Every candidate should be allowed proper time to support his campaign through the media. Why is it, then, that major media actively allocates airtime to candidates with ratings and other industry-only concerns in mind?

    Does CNN cast a vote in our presidential election? No.

    Then, I say, why should CNN be deciding the credibility or incredibility of a candidate? Even if a candidate is a seemingly improbable option, he/she deserves an equal opportunity to run for office. This is, I believe, afforded to him/her by citizenship in our country.

    Furthermore, I highly disapprove of your networks actions during the early primary debates. Your obvious on-air neglect of candidates outside of the mainstream (Kucinich, Paul, Gravel) is in clear reflect of the very problems that face Washington today. If our media cannot put aside its bias and agenda long enough to allow American citizens the right to receive accurate and unobstructed information about (all of) their political options, how can we expect our government to do the same (with big oil and the rest of the lobbyist plague).

    As Americans, it is our responsibility to be informed and involved in our elections. As an American news media corporation, is it not your responsibility to aid us in this pursuit?

    February 25, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Listening to that bit of footage I say.....GO RALPH!!!!!
    Give him all the air time you can, CNN.
    Someone has got to discuss these ISSUES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 25, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  8. Citizendan

    Instead of being an Independent candidate for President, why not offer Ralph Nader an opportunity to join the "Best Political Team On Television"? This way Nader can voice his views about Obama and Clinton as well as address the issues that he thinks matter in this Presidential election.

    February 25, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  9. lorrie

    absolutely none! why waste good media time on someone like him.

    February 25, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  10. Fabian R.

    How dare you catalog candidates according to your own subjective views? So THIS is why you didn't give as much coverage to Ron Paul as you did to warmongers like John McCain, and religious fanatics as Mike Huckabee. Shame on you for this sickening bias; I'm not a supporter of Mr. Nader, but recognize your obligation to fair coverage of ALL the candidates. Who cares what you and other media outlets think about the candidates, you're journalists, we don't care what you think, but what you investigate on. This is truly, truly sickening of your part. Thanks for showing your true colors.

    February 25, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. Chris B

    Thanks for asking this, Wolf.

    How about giving each candidate airtime in proportion to his or her support? For instance, if Nader is polling at 1%, he should get around 1% of the total airtime for presidential candidates.

    I think this system is fair, and coverage can grow or shrink as his support does.

    February 25, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  12. Doug Stocks

    Since this country is in desperate need of a third party, Nadar should be given ample air time.

    February 25, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  13. Michael Mautner

    Ralph Nader desrves little time. He is surely not a realistic candidate. He did a major disservcie to the environmental objectives of his "Green" Party but causing George Bush to be elected. he has very little credibility left with the electorate, young or old. Let the press focus on the real candidates and on their stands on the real issues, icluding the Green issues of the enviroment.

    February 25, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  14. Michelle

    Get over it Nader. The rest of us sure are!

    February 25, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  15. Matthew Sgarlata

    I think we should have him present at the presidential debates. He talks about issues that none of the candidates address. The American people deserve to hear the candidates talk about a wide range of issues, not just the standard ones asked at each debate.

    February 25, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  16. Bob

    Why don't you cover the Libertarian party primaries and pump up their candidate too, so that hopefully they can siphon from the Republicans like Nader will from the Democrats? Does that seem fair?

    February 25, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  17. Wiselectorate

    Mr Nader is not a viable candidate. So he deserves NO TIME

    February 25, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. Jerry

    Somewhere between zero and five minutes per week. Jerry Florida

    February 25, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  19. Ruth,,CALIFORNIA

    I believe Ralph Nader should receive air time as a qenuine canidate, and be shown the same respect from the press as any other canidate would be shown. His ideas about corporate America are right-on. We all know it. His ideas about both Republicans and Demorcrats being equally beholden to "big business" ring true. Let's hear him out. I have always believed him to be an honest man (perhaps one of the last) , DON'T SILENCE HIM! This is democracy in action.

    February 25, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  20. Max Bulinski

    Absolutely! Give a little time to a a new voice.

    February 25, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  21. Bob, Lyons Oregon

    Wolf, I don't think he should get much air time at all. It's really rediculous that he is even entering the race. He has proven he is not electable, by his past runs for the whitehouse. It's almost like he is trying to cause problems by entering at this time. It really does not matter, because he won't get much of the vote, therefore I don't think you should give him much time at all.

    February 25, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  22. Roosevelt Gremillion

    Ralph Nader should not get any free time on National Television.

    February 25, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  23. md

    None. He's done enough damage to our country already.

    February 25, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  24. Madeleine

    Yes, Nader should be heard. Let's keep that 1st Amendment. alive and well.

    February 25, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  25. Erwin

    I believe you are answering your own question; Nader may not lack interesting opinions and the rules of democracy say let him speak. But the news media, especially the mainstream kind-, do not see much promise in Nader, since he's not the big story. So I don't think you will give him much airtime. The likes of Hannity and O'Reilly will embrace him, for sure (and claim to be "Fair & Ballanced" about it), because they'll do anything to take votes away from the Democrats, which is, of course, what Nader will do, regardless of the small numbers.

    February 25, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
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