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. AJ

    Ben Fairbanks posted: "I'm a registered Democrat, though I vote Republican in national contests exclusively"

    So Ben, you're a liar. If you vote Republican exclusively in national elections, you are not a democrat and should not be registered as one.

    February 25, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. Not-voting-for-Nader

    Mr. Nader must, at some point, realize he is doing his own cause more harm than good by running for president. How much time does he deserve? If you ask me, he's already had more time than he's ever earned. Do the country a favor and ignore him entirely.

    February 25, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  3. Eric Melnyczenko

    I don't think Nader should be given any time due to the fact of what he did to Gore and this country in 2000, specifically in Florida. He should not be given time to change the minds of any Democratic voters to convert to his side and take votes away from the Democratic nominee. I cannot stand to think about this country having another Republican in office. This country needs help!

    February 25, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  4. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Give him as much time as you give Huckabee, that is if he doesn't have another job like Huckabee doesn't.

    February 25, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  5. bibi henna

    wolf you a low life
    go hillary

    February 25, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. Dennis

    If by airtime, you are talking about how much time on your programs to devote to covering him, I wouldn't give him much. 2.7% in 2000 was one thing, but 0.4 in 2004 is another. I don't see him doing any better than that. Considering that Obama appears to be the "change/reform" candidate this election cycle, I suspect Nader's support will continue to dwindle. He doesn't offer the voters anything new this year.

    February 25, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. Gil - California

    You said it correctly, he is, "a marginal candidate with no real chance of winning"

    Ralph will get the votes of some of those who are on the losing side of the Hillary/Barack competition (mine if Hillary wins) but he has no chance of winning.

    In this election CNN and other news "providers" have marginalized Dr Paul and his run for president. How much coverage should you give Ralph? I would say to only give him 10 percent of the coverage you gave Dr. Paul.

    February 25, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. therealist

    i.e.... Wolf believes the media should be in charge of how much time US Presidential candidates each get..

    February 25, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. Elizabeth

    Can't someone "Commit" Ralph Nader for the next 8 months for being delusional! He could pick a canidate and support that person and even advise. But he is definately delusional. Please, now that he has his 5 minutes in the lime light. Save the enviroment and turn him off!

    February 25, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  10. JB

    He should receive the same amount of airtime the news media afforded the likely candidacies of Kucinich, Gravel, Dodd, Richardson, Biden, Paul etc. Minimal to none. The media should avoid what Mr. Nader wants – which is to have his candidacy provided with free airtime and publicity solely because he chooses to make "qoutable" remarks about the frontrunners. Mr. Nader has every right to run for the presidency. However, much the same way as the media's coverage of less likely candidates continues to lessen, so should Mr. Nader's candidacy be given short shrift.

    February 25, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  11. Ron, NJ

    I think i'm split on my opinion of this. On one hand i think anyone should be able to run for President if they can find the money and support to be viable.
    But on the other i'm a Democrat and am sick of this. He technically gave us Bush in 2000. Thankfully he was just a fly on the wall in 2004 and hopefully he'll be a gnat on the wall this round.

    February 25, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. Lee Hinkley

    How many times does he have to run before he realizes that the country is not ready to back an independant.

    I wish we could do away with the party affiliation and vote for the best liar out there. We blame the president, no matter what party, for all that is wrong in this country. We need to hold Congress accountable. These are the people that make good or bad laws, mostly bad ones.

    February 25, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  13. J Norman

    Naturally, it depends if he has something of real substance to say but I'd give him minimal air time because we've heard from him in this forum for decades. CNN needs to focus on the candidates with a real chance to be president or candidates like Ross Perot who add a significant voice (new with significant support).

    February 25, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. Marianne

    As a legimate candidate, Ralph Nadar deserves to have his opinion aired by the media – even if I don't like what he's saying. Coming into the race this late in the game and with his track record, however, I think the 15 minutes of time he was given is sufficient. I'm one of those still angry that he enabled W to win. I think we all remember him saying that a vote for either candidate would mean the same thing. Wow, was he ever wrong on that one. And I see no evidence that he would be able to move things through Congress as an independent. Now, perhaps more than ever before, is a time we all need to come together – Republicans and Democrats – and I've only seen one candidate who can make that happen. Thank you Barack Obama!

    February 25, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  15. nick

    At 74yrs I would think that he should get one day at a time. Nader is a joke and has been and always will be. If he want to change things, why hasn't he made a run for Congress to make a start there. He doesn't want to be president because we only hear from him at election time and late in it. I would never give him my vote, I might as well give it to McCain if I would do something like that.

    February 25, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. Policraticus

    Give him some time. He's a major name that attracts attention (though not always votes). It's time for us to stretch this one-party, two faction system a bit. Show us that you take democracy serious enough to present to us a non-corporate candidate.

    February 25, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. David S

    While I respect his right to run, I see no reason the media should give him air time unless he demonstrates credibility as a contender, with his name on the ballet in fifty states. As another writer said, treat him as any other lesser candidate. Having said that, I mistrust his motives and feel he is doing this for self-aggrandizement as much as anything. I don't think the media owes him any favors.

    February 25, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  18. Ralph Boyd

    We have to remember that Nader is just as much a candidate as the Democratic and Republican nominee. He is entitled to just as much time as they are. You have to also remember, the news media is there to report the news and not to make the news, a mater that all of you seem to forget.

    February 25, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. ProfMike

    You should give him air time. You should also give time for the Libertarian candidate and if he runs Bloomberg/Hagel (or however they sort it out.) The big problem is that a lot of people feel both the Democratic and Republican Parties seem to have decided they are entitled to have the field all to themselves. We need candidates who will force Senators Obama, Clinton and McCain to defend all of their positions. If they feel that Ralph Nader is wrong, then they should face him down in open debate. Which might be difficult since both major parties have rigged the system to prevent real open debate. Platitudes are fine at a retirement dinner, but we're talking about the future of the country. ALL ISSUES MUST BE DISCUSSED. To many people have gotten lazy or depressed by the lack of legitimate political discourse in the United States. I did not risk my life for 20 years in the service to listen to unintelligent babble by all of the major candidates. Get Nader and all of the others on your program.

    February 25, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  20. Craig

    In 2000, his running for president was a statement that made sense. In 2004, it made less sense. In 2008, it makes no sense, it looks more like an ego trip. I don't think he will steal too many votes either way, but he will insist on getting his fair share of attention even though there are relatively few who have the patience to listen to more than 30 seconds of his drivel.

    February 25, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  21. Lynette Y. Lucas

    I appreciate all that Mr. Nader has done for the citizens of the United States of America in the area of consumer safety. I thank God for seat belts. Seat belts have saved thousands of lives. Twenty-two years ago a seat belt saved my life. But Mr. Nader has ZERO chance of winning the the presidency of the United States of America at this time. He would have had a better chance of winning the presidency 30 years ago. I would like to see Mr. Nade return to being a consumer advocate. I would like to see him work to keep harmful drugs, toys, and foods off the market.

    February 25, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  22. burton

    You've already given him as much time as he deserves.
    He's got no real chance of winning, especially this time around. All he'll do is potentially give McCain the presidency by drawing a portion of the true "independent" voters away from the Democrats – just like he did in Florida in 2000.
    Thanks Ralph, for giving us a really good shot at continued failure.

    February 25, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. Bob

    When I was young, big business owned government.
    Today, big business owns government.
    Most of our major problems can be traced to this.
    Why give airtime to anyone that is *in* the government, but not done anything about this?
    When's the last time one of these senators that promise "change", changed that?

    February 25, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. Bob Yamtich

    Ralph Nader attends to my needs for hope, authenticity, and using power in partnership. I am torn between him, Cynthia, and Barack. I trust Ralph, and I care about what he has to say. I am more interested in news media that helps consider what Ralph brings to the table.

    February 25, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  25. Well Seasoned

    As a conservative and a Republcan, I'm tempted to say "give him equal time" with the Republican and Democratic Party nominees ... and let him chip away a bit of liberal support from Clinton or Obama. Honesty compels me to say, however, that he has already gotten too much attention. He was a spoiler in 2000, a footnote in 2004 ... and this year he is a minor distraction, not even marginal. His train left the station long ago ... and he missed it.

    February 25, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
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