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. Daniel from Kansas


    February 25, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. Craig Carlsbad

    Ralph Who?

    February 25, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  3. Robert Clements

    Ralph Nader is tough, clear, and concise. I like him for those qualities and I think he makes an interesting guest. As for his legitimacy as a candidate, he's not in the same universe with the top teir candidates.
    Not having a chance is a real advantage in terms of being free to say precisely what you mean.

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

    Give him ten to fifteen minutes at a time once a week. Why? Because Nadar will criticize EACH of the candidates in a way that the they will not criticize one another, and in a way that will widen the topics the candidates have to address. Obama and Clinton are carefully controlling what they say and which topics they discuss. So is McCain. But an outside candidate, with a different take on everything, will bring out some issues and highlight some angles we will not hear without his perspective. Nadar has already made a name for himself with his auto safety contributions that have truly changed and improved life in the U.S. He may not be true Presidential material, but he has a voice that is respected even by people who wouldn't vote for him. AND he will bring up issues, even the media doesn't want to bring up, for fear of being accused by the mainstream candidates of bias.

    Let him speak. Let Ron Paul speak. Let Mike Huckabee speak.

    February 25, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  5. trudat

    he shouldn't get any time. the man is a nuisance he is not serious and shouldn't be allowed, even on a dog catchers [ballot] the loser. everything he's championed there's more of today than ever. is he a republic tool? is he ross perot jr? or the joker from batman? you decide

    February 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. Pete Harleman

    Nader is not a credible candidate by any stretch of the imagination. He should not receive any type of "equal time" treatment. To give him air time is patently unfair to the many, many marginal candidates who want the same air time for themselves.

    February 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. keter

    How about the same time CNN gives to other presidential candidates? After all, isn't the media supposed to provide a medium for the candidates (especially those with little financial support) to describe their plans and ideas? Otherwise, it is the media that votes... CNN should not abuse its power by covering only the candidates it thinks will win the presidential election, but should instead offer equal coverage to all registered presidential candidates.

    February 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. John

    Nader's candidacy is a tasteless joke. Beware the unforeseen repercusions, as in Florida.

    February 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. Mischelle from Illinois

    What do you mean "Give" him? The only "give" gotten from CNN is that you think the race for the Democratic nominee is over and that Hillary should resign. Will you "Give" Nadar as difficult a time as you give to the Clinton campaign? I doub't it. This would not be so questionable if you just "gave" the viewers the entire truth and not the Obama slant that is our daily dose...

    February 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. heithem

    Why would the media or anybody lose time to talk about a person who stands no chance of winning an election? His candidacy can only hurt this country. Had he not been a candidate in 2000, we would have had a better election and a fair contest between Al Gore and Bush... and of course, as a consequence we would have had a more competent, better president.

    February 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. Barry

    Wolf, I am amazed @ how biased the CNN coverage is favoring Obama! I know you as a fair, open minded, reporter-but give us a break,every time you talk politics,you lead with pictures of Obama, and all reports are slanted in his favor. Is there nothing positive that the Clinton campaign says or does that warrants any praise. I expect more from you and your network!! Look @ the last 5 days of your coverage! No way it's fair or unbiased!!

    February 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. David

    I think the trend from 2004 will continue and he'll receive a small percentage of the popular vote. Ultimately, Mr. Nader understands the reality of the situation. But, I think we have to remember that he is looking out for consumers and regular people. He also knows that with even a small percentage of the vote, he wields tremendous political power. This is the biggest opportunity for him to push the issues that matter to regular people in a corporate dominated society. And, he only gets the chance every four years. If he didn't "make 'em sweat," we wouldn't listen. What is more important, the issues, or which "red" or "blue" corporate "yes person" we elect? He thinks they are indistinguishable. So, ask yourself this, if you were Mr. Nader – what would you do?

    February 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. Charles Bavier

    Ralph Nader is a smart man and he should get about ten minuets each day. He is a spoiler and that is all. If he really wanted to be constructive he would raise issues to the Public during the Primaries and especially after party candidates are confirmed and the debates begin for the General Election.

    February 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  14. Jaclyn

    You thought Ross Perot was a "credible candidate" in 1992?? Are you out of your mind?

    I can't figure Nader out–if he cares so much about this country, then why does he undermine the 2-party system by stealing votes from the Dems? He's never won an election, he never will and he knows he won't. I think it's purely an ego trip for him. He's had his 15 minutes of fame already–leave it at that!

    February 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  15. Josh

    Mr. Nader is unlikely to garner a significant amount of votes, less than both Mr. Ron Paul and Mr. Mike Huckabee on the GOP side of things. He should get less time than Mr. Paul, which at this stage of the game is barely anything. The media needs to focus on the major candidates from both parties. Mr. Nader may have some good ideas, but like his peer on the GOP side (Mr. Paul), they are too extreme for the general voting public.

    February 25, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  16. Lawrence Schmitz

    Ralph Nader will probably get less than 1% of the vote again. Maybe 1% or less of the air time would be appropriate if it doesn't look like his campaign seems to be getting traction. Nader is not an unknown who needs to be given a chance to be discovered. So, give him a little time at first, but if he doesn't get support quickly cut back, way back.

    February 25, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  17. Jeff from Jersey

    He's already had too much time.Put him in a Corvair and tell him to hit the road.

    February 25, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  18. Chet from Michigan

    Well, let's see: according to your figures, he got 2.7% of the popular vote in 200, and 0.4% in 2004. Lets be kind and average them. This comes out to 1.55%. As there are roughly 16 hours in a news cycle, we'll give him exactly that percentage – we'll even round it up to 1.6 % – for a total of just over fifteen minutes per cycle, which is pleasingly close to the traditional 'fifteen minutes' of fame. During this fifteen minutes he is allowed to discuss the possibility of his entering the race, but the time does count, giving him all of a (deserved) five minute chunk to try and convince us that voting for him is not merely throwing away your vote and staying an extra 52,594,560 minutes in Iraq, which is exactly the next 100 years.
    Does this answer your question?

    February 25, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  19. P Jackson

    You should give Nader as much time as the other candidates. Love or hate him, his ideas are worth talking and thinking about. An election is a time for the country to consider its future. It helps to have views like Nader's in the debate. It should not matter if he is a "major or minor" candidate.

    We should be thinking about the ideas not the people.

    I would have preferred to have had the chance to listen more to all of the candidates from the very beginning – but the media must decide how much coverage a person (and his/her ideas)gets. Why? Money!

    February 25, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  20. Brian

    He already has gotten far more than he deserves.

    Please drop the story for the good of our country.

    Obama 08

    February 25, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  21. Dick Williams

    Regarding Nader-I think the news media have to give him a chance to explain himself. The problem I have is that he seems to have little regard with anyone who doesn't go along with all of his ideas. He knows he can't win but pretends he's not trying to be a spoiler. It's permissible in sports, but I don't have much respect for it in a presidential campaign. It's too important.

    February 25, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  22. Jeff Gallo

    As much time as you can. This is not a two party country. The Democrats and Republicans have taken over our electoral process and third party candidates are shut out. Try to imagine a three way debate with Nader, Obama and Clinton and see how much more engaging and healthy it would be for our democratic process. They wouldn't give Kucinich a chance at the debates because the debates are again run by the corporations ( favoring a two party system) not the League of Women Votes as in the past. Our entire democracy is being dictated by all the lobbyists and corporate influence, drug companies etc,. and Ralph Nader needs a forum for his views.
    The dumbing down or sloganeering politicans is depressing and we near a real candidate taking on the white house for sale status quo.

    Nader in 2008!

    February 25, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  23. Manny

    I think he should get ten years... in prison. he must be a republican lover at heart the way he keeps throwing whammys at the dems. What a putz.

    February 25, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  24. Letha, Sioux Falls, SD

    You ask a stupid question. He is a candidate so should receive fair and equal attention maybe with out the CNN stamp of failure like you are giving Clinton. CNNs bias towards Clinton has been very evident and irritating. If I wanted bias, I would just tune into FOX news. Did you really need to ask this idiot question? I though you were a pro.

    February 25, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  25. Michael Steingraber

    Nadar is a self absorbed egotistical person. He is delusionnal to think that Americans should take him seriously, not to mention that he is 76 years old. History will record him as the spoiler candidate, most un American of Americans.

    February 25, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
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