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. Joe Klein

    he's knowledgeable. What does it matter that he won't win. He's promoting issues. If the democrats want those votes as a boost they can adopt an issue (aren't they supposed to be for consumers anyway)?

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


    February 25, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  3. gorn by any other name

    Don't give him any air time unless and until he is on the ballot in at least 40 states. From that point, give him air time equivalent to his polling numbers plus 5%. If he's polling at 2%, give him coverage at 7%. That gives him a fair chance to increase his position without wining about lack of coverage. If he can't increase his polling accordingly, drop down to his polling level. In the last two months of the campaign, you shouldn't give any coverage at all to a candidate that has not exceeded 10% in the polls (already being generous here) because they can't have any chance of winning or doing anything but playing spoiler.

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

    I am glad that CNN's talking heads are finally acknowledging (albeit indirectly) their influence on the election. Wolf, to answer your question, you should "give" Nader as much time as time as you "give" any of the other candidates (the arrogance of this notion is incredible). This will probably come as a complete surprise to you, but its not up to you, Wolf, to decide for America which candidates are worth listening to. You are supposed to report the news, not manipulate it.

    February 25, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  5. arthur from Boston

    about 3 tenths of a second, about the total number of votes he got in 2004

    February 25, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  6. Steve Harris

    Perhaps it's long since time that everyone, even third party candidates who register only marginally in opinion polls should be included as fully as the two major parties' candidates. They sure don't get a fair shake thanks to biased election laws, it'd be nice if the media didn't decide for us which candidates are "viable". Our democratic-republic could use more than two strands of its vast political tapestry represented in the media. If Nader has enough support to make it on ballots throughout the country, he deserves equal time.

    February 25, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  7. Frank Aabye

    Give Nader what he desreves zip zero coverage, he is old hat
    no cattle, his run is laughable if not ridiculas

    February 25, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  8. Scott in Minnesota

    Nader looked at his checkbook and decided to make a few bucks, again.

    Let him on the ballot... legally we have to.

    But if you let him in the debates Wolf, well... I'm a little low on money too, so...

    I'd like to announce my candidacy for President of the United States!

    Make room on the debate stage for me Wolf, I'll be filing my paperwork shortly...

    February 25, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  9. Jennifer Bugg

    We're on a national Date with our future significant other, and Mr. Nader is the nerdy guy at the bar who keeps yammering in our ear and inviting us back to his place to see his new boat. Zero time, Wolf. We're not idiots waiting for Mr. Nader to enlighten us and we're well aware (we Americans) that no candidate is a perfect match. Let's take the time to get to know the candidates who might actually lead this country, their values, and their thought-processes.

    February 25, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  10. Maureen Bruschi

    In response to your question about how much air time to give Ralph Nader in the course of the upcoming general campaign, I would say certainly no more than was given Dennis Kucininch. Obviously Nader has no chance of winning and likes to hear himself talk . He probably won't even get on the ballots in many states. Quite honestly, if he was on CNN, I would be forced (as difficult as that would be) to switch to another station. He's a "Johnny come lately" and I'm sure will not get out and campaign like Clinton, Obama and McCain.

    February 25, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  11. Zach

    As little as possible, thank you.

    February 25, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  12. Independent-Latina-voter, Salt Lake City, UT

    None, zip, nada........ zero! Nader is an egomaniac, a spoiler! He ruined Gore's chances of being elected.

    People let's send a clear message to Nader, DO NOT give a single vote.

    February 25, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  13. Athena

    As the mainstream media, whether we Americans like that fact or not, you must realize the power you hold over the presidential race. You have marginalized candidates like Ron Paul, Denis Kucinich, and Mike Gravel, condemning them to obscurity when their views may actually have been supported by many voters. While such voters should have been better informed, one must recognize that many trust greatly in media like CNN to thoroughly educate them. Personally, I am appalled at the disregard you have held for Mike Gravel, who is still in the race as a Democratic nominee yet is COMPLETELY ignored in your coverage of the party's campaign. He may have no delegates, but by refusing to mention him as a candidate, you convey false information and also disrespect.

    You cannot change the detrimental attitude you chose to take with regard to these highly intelligent, yet underfunded and thus ignored candidates. Yet you can make up for it by giving Ralph Nader the air time he deserves. I understand that CNN simply will not give him the same amount of air time as it gives Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or John McCain. But Nader deserves a report on his viewpoints and his legacy so that voters will not be misled by CNN into supporting the problems that a two party system entails. Perhaps, unlike the forgotten Gravel, he might be included in a debate with the candidates?

    February 25, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  14. Amy Jacobson

    All the Democrats (who are afraid of losing votes to him) will say no time, and all the Republicans (who need him to take away indy votes) want to give him plenty of time. Independents, wish there was a more viable independent candidate, but until that happens, an American voice that respects every human in the most basic way should not be silenced.

    If you don't agree with his message, don't listen to him. If he scares you because he tells it like it is, you shouldn't be in politics.

    February 25, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  15. Jerry Eckert

    How much time to Nader? Zero! Running for President is clearly a hobby of his in which he indulges for his own amusement with total and callous disregard for the consequences to the nation. Nader's time came and went as a consumer advocate. As a politician he has only negative consequences to offer. If he is stupid enough to not realize what he did in Florida in 2000, then he is unqualified on the basis of mental incompetence to lead the country. Zero!

    February 25, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  16. Faith-An

    Will Nader be a part of the CNN debate Tues night? I hope so. We need a third candidate to referee.

    February 25, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  17. Larry M.

    You have already given him too much coverage.

    February 25, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  18. Ross Cooper

    Not a minute more than you gave Ron Paul! Your show is garbage.

    Ron Paul 08' Freedom

    February 25, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  19. Janann

    Nader should play by the rules like everyone else, not take the shortcut. He would've gotten pounded in the primaries and would have to go away.

    February 25, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  20. Marin

    Nader is useful for bringing into focus issues that have not been in front plane so far. It would be interesting to see Obama and McCain face Nader in at least one debate, to see how they respond to his positions, and to measure his ability to influence the agenda debated.

    As someone who leans towards Democrats candidate, I must still confess to the possibility that there are voters with strong leftist preference, to the point that they are thinking – "If there is no Independent option, I do not care who wins the election". They should know about Nader as existing choice.

    There is one thing CNN should NOT do, and that is taking on it's shoulder's the 'lessons learned' from 2000 and 2004 elections, and in order not to 'compromise' chances of major candidates, rule out Nader up front. That is up to voters, not media to think of.

    Finally, the question that can be answered only empirically is – how would Nader influence the ratings of the debates?

    February 25, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  21. Jeff

    He should get 0.4% of the airtime, which he has already exceeded.

    February 25, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  22. elibajai

    NOTHING!!!!! Don't waste your time on this guy. He and the people who vote for him needs psychological evaluation.

    February 25, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  23. Steven Rife

    Ralph Nader should get little if any air time.

    He always runs, he always loses, it appears to be a total
    ego trip for him to run for president.

    Too bad he can't think of anything better to do with his money...

    February 25, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  24. Tania

    Honestly, whoever becomes president should create a position for Ralph Nader within the electoral system. He should be the registered Devil's Advocate for debates during the primaries and the general election, to ensure that the candidates actually address the issues and make substantive statements.

    He'll never be president, but he does an excellent job of asking the questions candidates don't want to answer.

    February 25, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Ralph Nader is not a legitimate candidate.

    February 25, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
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