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. Preston Winters

    Nader got less than 0.5% of the vote last time around. Does this make him a legitimate candidate in any sense of the word? I don't think so. Of course, if you'd like to be complicit in helping to throw the race to McCain, knock yourself out.

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

    He shouod get little time. He is less relevant then Ron Paul.

    February 25, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  3. Analise McHale

    0 – that's how much air time you should give him.

    February 25, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  4. Itsuro Uchino

    Very little. He has become a laughing stock with no chance of significant influence one way or other over this election. He appears to enjoy and even be addicted to the high which comes with running.
    As personal matter aside, since he has very little chance of influencing this election, minimum time to be spent for this candidate.

    February 25, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. Brian

    Out of all the CNN anchors, I think you have been the most fair with respect to time given to candidates. I wish Ron Paul had more time and it would be unfair to give Nader more time than has already been given to Ron Paul. The people should know what a candidate stands for so they can make an educated choice. The problem is that most people will rely on water cooler conversations and what other people think rather than making that choice on their own. For people that really want to know about a candidate, they will find out themselves. Your job should be to let everyone know the highlights and where to go for further investigation. Thanks for the chance to voice my opinion!

    February 25, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  6. Cindy

    I don't see him as a serious threat to win, but he is a celebrity candidate. and a celebrated consumer advocate. That in itself... sells.

    I am curious to see how badly disenfranchised the Democratic Party is. If and when Hillary concedes to Obama, will her supporters flock to Nader out of spite? And/or vice versa?

    If Nader garners big numbers in polls, sure. But if he doesn't, then he should get the Ron Paul treatment.

    Sorry Ron Paul supporters... 😦

    February 25, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. faboo

    How about giving him as much air time as you give Rep. Ron Paul or Mike Gravel? Or as much time as you gave Rep. Kucinich, Rep. Hunter and Sen. Dodd or Sen. Biden? Already, the media has decided to collectively ignore Gov. Huckabee, yet for whatever reason, you'll still paying attention to Sen. Clinton, who's won only 3 more states than Huckabee did.

    Why are you pretending to care about fairness?

    February 25, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. Brian Nancoo - Trinidad

    Nader should not get any time because he is not a serious candidate.By his candicacy,both past and present,he is merely pointing out how ridiculous democracy can be and how stupid a lot of voters are.Why would you freely vote for someone who has no desire to be the President,is not preparing to be President and is not qualified to be President?

    February 25, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. Bhavani Prathap

    I am an international student in the US and that means I am not going to vote in the primaries nor the general election. After coming to know about Nader and how he spoilt the chances of Al Gore, I personally felt bad. He knows, even this time, that there is no possibility of him coming anywhere close to winning the general election. Unless, he did something significantly different in the past 4 years..he should not be considering running again. This means to say that - Run Nader..if u want..but do something which might help u win...but pls do not run just for the sake of it.

    Your doing this in 2000 put republicans at the helm..I know whom you hate more than the democrats at least.

    February 25, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. Stephan - Independent

    Give him time if he can get close to 10% of the national poll. We have heard him many times before. So, if we as a nation want him, he should be able to get close to 10%. if not, he is just a noise maker!

    February 25, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. bernie bennett

    He should get the same ammount of time proportionate to the number of votes he got in the lastelection...less than one percent.

    February 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  12. Peter Schweich

    Can Wolf really be so silly (or insulting to his readers) to ask "how much air time should Nader get?"

    Ralph Nader has been told by the American people many times that he is not considered presidential material. Mr. Nader is professional narcissist. Why else would he set out, with no chance of winning, to take even one vote away from either Clinton or Obama? Perhaps Mr. Nader expects a nice contribution from McCain ,who most likely is the only American pleased with his decision to run.

    February 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. citizen3591

    For you to even pose the question, "how much air time do we give him?" supports the widespread belief that the media manipulates the news. It certainly sounds like there's some sort of judgmental criteria being applied by some elite decision makers somewhere in the CNN organization, and it even sounds as though "air time" is a privilege that CNN bestows upon the subjects of its reporting.

    Look, Nader should get whatever air time he can afford. He should appear on the ballots in any state where he meets the legal qualifications, and if his campaign attracts people, then they should get his votes.

    February 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. Alonzo - AZ

    I think Mr. Nader has had his "15 minutes". He's not going to even come close to winning and will dilute the outcome by stealing votes from both the R's and the D's. However, I believe the D's will get damaged more from him entering. I am an independent and I want the election to be decided by the people, but between the two nominees not someone who's letting his ego get in the way. USMC (ret.)

    February 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. M. Fitzgerald

    Watch how he does in the polls. Base his airtime off of that. If he pulls in voters like he did in 2000, he could be a factor, and deserves a chance to be heard. However if his campaign turns out like that of 2004, he's not really newsworthy.

    February 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  16. Kyle

    NONE, unless the 3rd party starts acting like a party, they don't deserve airtime. Even when you give the greens a chance, they fair...take Illinois for instance...they go easier access to the ballot because people were so upset with the choices for Gov. last time around that they had a good turnout., but in the Feb 5th primary they had a dismal amount of participation, showing that they can't organize and they have no chance of success even when given every oppurtunity.

    February 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  17. Ben Fairbanks

    I'm a registered Democrat, though I vote Republican in national contests exclusively. In 2004, as I remember, most media attention that Ralph Nader got was predicated on or qualified with the sentiment that he was the indirect cause of George Bush's presidency. These constant reminders were, I believe, prejudicial towards Ralph Nader's candidacy and poor form on part of the media. That said, I don't know how deserving Ralph Nader is of media coverage. Four tenths of a percentage points is not a large constituency-I bet its on the same order as write-ins for Micky Mouse. How much attention did the media pay to Bo Gritz? I hope not much. Give Nader coverage proportional to his previous presidential returns-for every 200 stories concerning any of the other candidates, go ahead and offer one for Nader, but don't remind us that he cost Gore the election in 2000.

    February 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. Unsafe at Any Speed

    None! Zippo! Nada! He's through, history, bad dream.

    February 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  19. vernon sullivan

    Mr. Nader is just one of the many perennial names who seek notoriety through putting their names on the ballot. He does not represent a major party, nor is he likely to get more than 1 or 2 percent of the vote, if that. So, please give him no more attention than you would the many other lesser candidates.

    February 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  20. Paul Hughes

    He shouldn't get any! Unless you want to do a documentary on OVERSIZEd EGOS! He has no constituency.He will be of no consequence at all.

    February 25, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. Obama 08


    February 25, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  22. Doug

    Nader is a distraction and a nuisance. He doesn't stand a chance. Give him 0 time.

    February 25, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  23. Diva in Philadelphia, PA

    Okay, in recent years, Wolf, I have tried to tone down my conspiracy 'theorism', but this one smacks of someone on some side somewhere trying to sabotage someone else. Nader, by this late announcement, cannot possibly believe that he will garner enough support to win the nomination. And in the end, with the Democratic race so close, he'll only serve to bring one of these candidates down. We've been here before and I refuse to take Nader seriously. After the 2000 debacle (my first vote in a Presidential election since coming of age in 1998), he cannot possibly believe the Dems have forgiven him. Honestly, I believe this is either about who he wants to handicap more than him allowing the American people to make an informed and fair choice. Nader, sit down!

    February 25, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  24. lynndag

    What took him so long? With the media lovefest for Obama and criticism of Clinton the issues are never discussed. Nader will talk about issues.

    February 25, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  25. citizen3591

    ...crazy mixup in my last comment, should read, "he should get their votes."

    February 25, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
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