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. Pat

    You should give virtually no air time to Ralph Nader in the general election. He has absolutely no chance of winning and he is simply a distraction in this historic and crucial election year. If Nader really cared about a change in direction in this country, he wouldn't run. He is simply running for his own personal ambitions!

    February 25, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  2. Joan Signorille

    He should not be given any time. He is no longer relevant to the discussion

    February 25, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. Mark

    Wolf, thank you for actually asking this very important question. First, Let me state that I am a registered Democrat who last voted for a Democrat during Bill Clinton's first run for President. Since then, I have lost faith in the Democratic Party. My views are completely in line with that of a third party; i.e independant, or whatever you choose to label me/us.

    That said, I think any credible third party candidate is worth as much airtime as any of the two major parties. The issue, as you have set up your question, is what defines the term "credible"? The difinition of 'Any chance of winning' would negate every single third party candidate to ever run. Ever. So, your narrow definition already answered your question.

    I feel anyone who has a national name and reputation, and following, is IN FACT a credible candidate that the media MUST allow equal airtime (That would negate me, for example, but Perot and Nader would qualify). Whether he/she has a chance of winning is irrelevant.

    The very sad footnote is your portrayal of Perot as 'credible' while Nader is not. Why? Becuase Perot would steal votes from the GOP, so he is credible in the medias eyes, but anyone stealing votes from the Dems, GOD FORBID!!!! They are NOT credible.
    The media is a biased and bordering on being a complete joke when it comes to politics, however I will thank you asking your patronizing question. Keep up the good work.

    February 25, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  4. Daniel

    Give Nader no time. It is his onus to prove he's a viable candidate. If he does that, he may then merit more airtime. If I said I wanted to run for President tomorrow, it doesn't mean I deserve airtime to make my case. This guy only got 0.4% of the vote in the last election. That's not a viable candidate.

    February 25, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  5. Frankie Ann Goodson

    I think you should give Mr. Nader as much attention that you are giving Huckabee and the rest of them. Who are you to decide. This is America the last time I looked.

    February 25, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. Patty Don't


    I have to start off by telling you i am a big fan and really respect your opinion (not to pander or anything). I think the only real influence that Ralph Nader will have on this election is to bring higher levels of scrutiny to both candidates. As and Obama supporter (and voter) I actually relish this as it will give him an oppurtunity to show that he does have more than fancy talk to those non-believers still out there. I am concerned however about Sen. McCain's reputation and future as a higher level of scrutiny will bring out things long forgotten or pushed under the proverbial rug, that is if the exist at all. The thing about Sen. McCain's larger amount of experience is it also creates a larger record to track and potentially use against him.

    February 25, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  7. Nick Baker

    If you have to even ask the question I'll predict the outcome – about as much as Ron Paul, close to none.

    February 25, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. Lamps

    I think he should get more time.

    February 25, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. Stephen

    i think Ralph Nader simply wants the air time to draw attention to his platform and flout his opinions and ego. After the 2000 election, his viability as a candidate to be taken seriously or even fathom voting for evaporated with the realization that FL was so close. With winning less that 1/2 of a percent of the vote in the 2004 election. How can you make a case for him being a valid 3rd party nominee. You simply can't. So the decision to give him air time, is a question on whether you care to give him personally the opportunity to vent his opinions and ego.

    February 25, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. Evan

    How much time should Nader get?

    Zero: You already know his positions, and you know he's not going to win.

    February 25, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. Ryan

    Especially because Ralph Nader is someone with a national presence and a history of participating seriously on the national electoral front, it seems undemocratic to not allow him the same amount of time as networks allow the Democratic and Republican nominees. I understand that it is almost certain one of those two nominees will win the general election and thus a sentiment exists that they should receive the bulk of the time, but limiting the time of other candidates only further fuels the power of two of the many political parties in this country.

    February 25, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  12. Helen

    Nader is an american. Therefore, if he wants to run he should. I say the way that this nation is going to hell in a handbasket that Lou Dobbs or Mayor Bloomberg should test the waters Don't wait. For God's sake America needs you.

    February 25, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  13. Ace from San Diego


    February 25, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  14. Steve in Albuquerque, NM


    February 25, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  15. Daniel

    The simple answer is – give the candidates who people are most interested in the most air time.

    However, figuring out who people are most interested in due to a chicken-and-the-egg problem with media. If the media doesn't cover Nader's presidential run, people won't know about it and won't be interested in following him. If people aren't interested in Nader, they won't want to hear about his presidential run. So, who starts this train rolling?

    As a media organization, there is a lot of power that you have. In my opinion, media should spend a bit of time giving Nader a lot of press. Throw his story out in the public lake and see if people bite. If they're clamoring for more – keep it up. Otherwise... well, should a candidate few are going to vote for truly get a lot of air time?

    February 25, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  16. Kirk Essary

    It's a strange dilemma for Democrats, indeed. Many of us would like to see more of Nader, especially those with more anti-corporate and environmentalist leanings. However, we all know he will lose the race. So we're left with this dichotomy: either vote for Nader because he more closely represents your views (and show that there are more than two political camps in this country) OR vote for the candidate you think will likely defeat a Republican (something increasingly important, especially in lieu of Nader's Florida swing in 2000). All this is to say, I'm rather torn on your original question. We want Nader's face out there because it is the most democratically responsible way the media can operate; then again, we don't want repeat of 2000.

    February 25, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  17. Ray Hamel

    Hi Wolf:

    Ralph Nader's late entrance into the field makes me wonder if his announcement isn't more about bolstering his earning power as a speaker and with his publisher.

    He stands no chance of winning, and has not elucidated a credible rationale for his candidacy. At best, he could be a spoiler in the closely contested states – the the advantage of the Republican Party.

    Mr. Nader has name recognition, but I'm not sure that he merits any air time. This is a ego trip, pure and simple.

    February 25, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  18. Kirby Alexander Lafayette LA

    CNN knows the drill....as much time as the viewers want. I doubt anyone will really care and thus no controversy over airtime.

    February 25, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  19. Evan


    February 25, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  20. Thomas

    He should receive no more airtime than the percentage of the popular vote he garnered in the last election (i.e. less than 3% of the airtime given to Obama, Clinton and McCain). The best way to deflate his misguided ambitions is to let him fade into the background noise.

    February 25, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  21. Colin Brown


    I have nothing against Ralph Nader except that his political agenda is unrealistic, has not changed, and has proven to be unsuccessful 3 times now, and by large margins. He should be given minimal air time as he is no more than a distraction. Incidentally, as much as I would have liked to see Al Gore win in 2000, claiming that he cost the Dems the election is nonsense. The voters cost Al Gore that election.

    February 25, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  22. Brian

    Waste of time, money and focus. He cannot possibly win and he knows it. It is just a forum for him to get his views out there during a highly visible time for the country. It would be cheaper and possibly more effective to take out daily ads in all the newspapers across the country to make his points.

    February 25, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  23. John Ellis

    I would suggest giving very minimal time to Ralph Nader. We all know that he is not a serious candidate and will win 1% of the vote or less. How long will it take him to figure out that he is irrelevant?

    February 25, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  24. Mike Kaplan

    My suggestion: NO TIME AT ALL.

    His 15 minutes on Meet the Press was 15 minutes too many.
    He has virtually no constituency at this point, and has had four years to try and establish the third party he claims to care so much about. He didn't lift a finger, just like he didn't lift a finger for the four years before that. Instead, he just jumps in at the last minute, reinforcing the impression that his waste-of-time presidential run is all about ego and attention.

    February 25, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  25. Eleanor

    Wolf.... love your show....you always try to be fair and informative

    Nader is a non-factor!!!!
    he has no credibility except to divide the election
    Why waste air time on this joker
    he needs to retire permanently!!!
    Go way Nader!!!

    February 25, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
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