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. Karen Hopson

    An arrogant, egotistical man who does not know when to say "enough is enough". Why is he trying to horn in on the already complex race between Obama and Clinton. Who does he think he is. He is pathetic. Poor man, just can't let it go.

    February 25, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  2. Tim Akapo

    The Initial 15minuntes you awarded him should be all he gets. One thing we do wrong as a nation with our political system is, "we allow third party spoilers at the later hour", and that should be a big NO, hence to AIR TIME for Mr. Nader Wolf. If all he's going to ever get is 2% of the vote, then he is just making a mockery of our political system.

    February 25, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  3. Wil

    All the major candidates from both parties have been working for over a year, putting their names and faces into the public eye. They've earned air time. Nader wants to gain some quick attention in the final stretch. Cynthia McKinney, Mike Gravel, Alan Keyes, and all the "other party" candidates deserve more air time than Ralph Nader because they've been campaigning and doing the work.

    February 25, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. James T. Anderson

    As much as I like Ralph Nader (I voted for him in 2000), I believe it would be a wasted vote this time. However his corporate views and more important his stance on cutting defense spending are very important to me and I feel deserves more air-time.

    February 25, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. s yacenda

    every point that mr. nader mentions in the tim russert interview is not only valid, it is also of critical importance to national interests to expound. mr. obama may see some of the points as valid and others as fringe issues, yet every one needs to be brought to the fore as legitimate. for examples, i agree with mr. nader that the israeli/palestinian conflict must not be off the table in the primary campaigns; the question may be the timing of bringing it up. it could be so divisive that mr. obama would like to have kept it on the backburner so as to not divide his constituents. (also, nuclear power is not a source of clean energy, it poses threats to national security and its demerits need to be aired.) mr. nader consistently brings up what other candidates in the main have rejected as talking points so this is why he needs to be given as much attention as the other candidates.

    let the voters decide. give every candidate equal access to the public and the debate will be more substantial, without media censorship. otherwise the access to media is based partially on the amount of advertising spending by each candidate, yet truly the airwaves must belong to the people. we deserve to have all ideas freely debated by all serious contenders, including those of the green party and ron paul. open up the process and invite lively exchanges of ideas. so far the questions from the debate moderators have stymied a discussion such as mr. nader promotes.

    February 25, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. Frank Lee

    Nader's time has long since come and gone.

    And sadly, he got just what he wanted – a Bush presidency.

    February 25, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  7. come on now

    three or four minutes.
    if that.

    February 25, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  8. Giancarlo

    This just goes to show (like with John Edwards), the amount of media time you get determines how well you do. John Edwards was by far the best candidate, but he got little air time because he wasn't an "exotic" candidate. He had no need to fight with the other two and that showed great patience and maturity, but he also can play rough if he has to, something you need to be able to do as President.

    February 25, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. marc

    Wolf, this is a good question. Nader is in the race to criticise all and everyone. In my opinion there is no reason giving him more than 10 minutes at all. Ok, he ought to say, why he personaly now gets in the race. It's ok, if he'll takes the time to explain what makes HIM the best presidential candidate in the 2008 elections. If he only spooks around with criticism to the other candidates, the time is not worth it. At all I hope this debate will not be a mud-wrestling round.

    February 25, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  10. kieran


    February 25, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. Dave C - N.J.

    Give him as much press as you gave Ron Paul over the last 2 weeks. Zero!

    February 25, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  12. Rachel

    Well, considering that Ron Paul has been in this from the start and hasn't gotten much airtime at all, I think Nader should get even less than Paul has gotten. NONE!

    February 25, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  13. Ginger

    Hi, Wolf!

    I think we are all tired of Ralph Nader. If he got 15 minutes with Tim Russert then he has had his air time! Don't give him any more. We don't need him pulling away Democratic votes.

    February 25, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. Dick / NH


    Nader should get airtime only if he pays for it in the form of a political ad...otherwise, he should get NONE...the man is irrelevant!!!!!!!!!!

    February 25, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  15. Dayne, Pittsburgh, PA

    This is technically his 5th time involved in the process of running for the presidency. His showing every year, except 00, were dismal, at best.

    Considering the votes he received in 04 were about as many as the Libertarian candidate, you should give them equal coverage. Meaning: practically nothing.

    February 25, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  16. Basho

    He should get little or no time until he can show he actually has a following who will vote for him. Do you give air time to other fringe candidates, whethe they be socialist or what not? Why do you in the media give him attention? To hype the story of how he may yet be the spoiler. Not this time. Thank God for DVR, so I can just go past anything I see about him.

    February 25, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  17. Kendall

    Who??..Oh no..Why is Nader running again??...somebody please tell him that his quest for an ego boost is going to put another republican in office...
    Great...we [democrats] were riding easy street to the white house till now...please dont let this guy ruin it for the whole country....AGAIN

    February 25, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  18. Timothy

    Nader's message that the two parties are arm in arm carried some weight in '96 and in 2000. Since then the major parties have been heading in opposite directions. It's obvious to everyone but Nader that there is now a huge difference in the platforms of the parties. I voted for Nader in 2000 and bitterly regretted it after the Bush debacle.

    February 25, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  19. nic

    Aw come on! At 74, this will likely be Nader's last run. He deserves coverage, if for no other reason than to remind Americans that this is, in principle, a democracy, and we sorely need to hear from a third school of thought.

    February 25, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  20. Jen Redmond

    Ralph Nader has every right to run for president. In fact, he has every right to garner as many votes as he can for himself. But, having said that, he does not have the right to undermine the efforts of the leading presidential candidates. If he wants to talk about issues that are important to him then he can. But it should be the people, not the media, who give him that platform. Ron Paul was able to earn media attention due to his fund raising and enthusiastic support from the people. Nader's attention is due to the fact that this will be the fifth time he tries and fails to become president. Nader, while still providing a different perspective, can no longer be treated as a serious presidential candidate and therefore should not be given air time unless he earns it by saying or doing something that the American people feel is relevant.

    February 25, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  21. kate

    give him equal time.

    i dont need to defend why i say that other than that we deserve to hear what he has to say (just as we deserved to hear what kucinich and ron paul had to say but who were effectively shut out by big media)...

    February 25, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  22. Mark

    .4% of all stories should be about Ralph. 1 out of every 250.

    February 25, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  23. Eric

    Nader won't even get one percent of the vote, UNLESS the media, in their zeal to see him as viable, a wild card, etc. give him the free exposure that he craves and a legitimacy that he demonstrably doesn't deserve. Please don't let him distract you–or the voters–from the literally life and death issues that are at the heart of this election.

    February 25, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  24. Shannon

    He needs to get as much time as the republican and democrat candidates get. Seriously, it's an atrocity that this country doesn't have more then 2 major political parties representing it and a big part of that problem is the media. They concentrate on the democrats and republicans because that's who will ultimately win the election, obviously I get that. But, it's time this country had more then 2 choices for President, and that they’re all given the opportunity to be taken seriously, and until the media can make time for more then 2 choices how are the American people supposed to?

    Plus, this guy always has a different perspective. Who is anyone to say its wrong? He brings up some very good points and he cares about people. Let him speak and let him be heard.

    February 25, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  25. Nick Black

    Nadar Knows he will never win, he's just being controversial for the sake of controversy. Also he needs to keep the going rate of his speaking fees up. In other words, he needs to be relevant. Keeps the cash rolling in.

    February 25, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
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