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. MD

    Easy answers to your three questions:

    Not at all
    No real chance.

    Nader is even further to the left than Obama.

    February 25, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. Micahel Guinn, Ventura, CA

    He's the reason we got W- That is enough reason right there to disregard him. He won't have the impact this time because in 2000 he went from a Champ to a Chump! We will never forgive, or forget. Damage is done- now we can move on....and Ralph can move OUT.

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

    I think as much time as possible. He will force the candidates to address real issues in real time.

    February 25, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  4. Eric, Newtown, PA

    I'd say let the national polling determine the extent of coverage he gets. He's nationally known, so it's a fair yardstick. To give him disproportionately greater coverage than other minor third-party candidates would be unfair to the latter. Nader is a no-hoper, and the only way he can create news is again to play the spoiler in swing states. But many Nader voters learned their lesson in 2000: there was a difference between Gore and Bush after all. With each race, Nader becomes a lesser figure. He won't break half a percent of the popular vote this time.

    February 25, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. Lois Roisman

    Ralph N. is bringing up issues you don't raise in debates by your questions. For instance, where do the candidates stand on changes in the civil justice system, a most serious issue on which Obama has cast surprising votes. They seem to have distinct differences in this area, but you never bring it up. Nader does, so I think he serves a valuable purpose and should get generous air time to ask the unasked questions.

    February 25, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  6. J

    Nader should get as much time as it takes me to post this comment.

    February 25, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. Russ Ming

    Give him no airtime. If Nader messes up the vote for the Democratic candidate, the news media will be to blame for giving him attention. So, my vote is NONE.

    February 25, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  8. mili vanili

    This man does'nt have a chance and is only in the race, to siphon votes from someone. This man is a career spoiler at age 74. Dear Ralph we not not want your prehistoric behind.

    February 25, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  9. Chet

    Nader will do it again and be a spoiler for Democrats. Since no McCain supporter would vote for Nader, give him lots of air time,

    February 25, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. Edward, NH

    I think that he should get the very minimum air time considering the fact that the only reason why he is there is to be a spoiler. he has no intent of running a good, organized campaign nor does he have any plans on how to lead the country. So, being that his sole reason for running is to be a spoiler and put his name out there, he should get very little air time or none at all.
    it is very similar to me deciding to run as an independent. How much air time will i get?

    February 25, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  11. Robert Johnson

    Nader should be heard and not excluded. He has that right. Jerry Brown had no chance of winning and he was given air time because he had important ideas to share. The same goes for Ross Perot. Please don't shut Nader out of the process.

    February 25, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. LW

    Slim to none.... But I know his few supporters will be upset.

    February 25, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. Dolores

    Seems any little time given to poor old Ralph Nader would take away from CNN's Obama lovefest time!

    February 25, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  14. Erin

    I think that candidates that have less than 5% of national public support as shown by more than one poll should receive only minimal air time.

    February 25, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  15. AntiBrenda

    If he only acheived a 0.4% of the votes in 2004 i am willing to bet he will get less than that in 2008. I would like to see CNN time spent more wiser than throwing it out there for a "spoiler". Yes! a spoiler, and he knows he is nothing more than that.

    February 25, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  16. Steve

    I'm amazed that you as a professional newsperson would need to ask such a question. Obviously, Nader is viable candidate with ideas that need to be heard and listened to, unless you and CNN are concerned about offending some of your advertising 'biggies' and don't want anyone to really rock the boat.

    February 25, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  17. brian miller

    He needs to be covered with similar amounts of coverage to the other three canidates.

    It is a cause and effect argument. You say he doesn't have a chance, so you don't cover him. But then the reason he doesn't have a chance, is because you don't cover him.

    open up the debate, bring Nader into the mainstream of political discourse.

    February 25, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  18. johnpotter123

    He will not have nearly the credibility he did in 2000, or even '04. The only attention Nader gets beyond the fringe who would always go for someone like him is from liberals who find the Dem nominee too conservative or uninspiring. If Obama is the nominee, this will not be a problem in '08.

    He has every right to run, though, and it is a tricky question: do struggling candidates suffer from lack of media attention, or are they not paid media attention because they're struggling? My opinion: give him his obligatory 5 minutes, but the news should meet the people where they're at, and most voters have no interest in him.

    February 25, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. Jbecks

    He's clearly not as credible as Ross Perot, and has no chance of winning. But that's not what he is about. He is trying to raise support for issues that will pull Democrats back to the left. I totally support his run though I will not vote for him. But I think he deserves enough air time to make his case every now and then. To remind people what he stands for and why he is running. Just enough so people know, and he is not forgotten. It's not necessary he gets equal air time as major candidates.

    February 25, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  20. Kevin Segalla

    Airtime for Nader?.....NONE, zippo, zilch, nada, nil, squat. This guy knew very well that the race in Florida was incredibly close. He achieved everything he could have byt the week of election. If he had pulled out and endorsed Al Gore, this country would have been saved from the disaster that is George W. Bush.

    He can keep telling himself that it was not his fault that Al Gore lost but everyone knows the truth. Anything good this man has to say is completely drown out by the colossal and unforgivable error he made in 2000.

    His hubris makes him unable to see the tremendous damage he's done to this country. Let me put it more clearly – "Ralph Nader – sit down and shut up!"

    February 25, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  21. John

    I understand Nader has the freedom to run as an independent, but given the liklihood that there is no way of him winning, you should spend the time covering the candidates who have a real opportunity to take the White House come next January. Nevermind the potential spoilers. This isn't the year 2000.

    February 25, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  22. Sean

    Although I will not be voting for Nader, it is not CNN's responsibility to determine which candidates are legitimate or not; that is the voter's job. I am impressed that Nader is bothering to talk about the issues whereas the dems and republicans are merely talking about each other. You should definitely be giving Nader airtime when he is bringing up important policy notes.
    -Sean SF

    February 25, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  23. Craig Hewitt

    Ralph Nader should be given NO time on the airwaves. He is becoming more and more irrevlevant as the years go by and frankly, if he hadn't spoiled the election in 2000, we would have a vastly different political landscape.

    February 25, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  24. Paul

    Please do not let Nader waste any more of our time. Other more qualified candidates, such as John Edwards and Mitt Romney came and went. Why should he be able to just pop in now? I want to get down to the issues between the 2 candidates from each party and them make a decision.

    February 25, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  25. J

    Oh, and I watched his interview w/ Russert. I agree with Nader in that many Americans want a third party/other than Dem & Repub representation. The problem I have is that Nader thinks he is the best one to fulfill that void. Sure, he has the right to run if he can afford to, that is his choice. In my opinion, he comes across (esp in that interview) as if he is the answer to America's problems.

    February 25, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
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