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. Mongo

    Give him his fair share...about 0.4% of the total time.

    February 25, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  2. ED FL

    The same amount of time that CNN and MSNBC should get for the worst election cycle in my 78 years. It is disgraceful the way you two networks have tried to scew and rig this election to fit your favoritism. ABOUT 20 YRS EACH would be a good start.

    February 25, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  3. eric_stay

    Am not sure. But I am certain about the role CNN and other media have played to hijack a well poised Hillary campaign. Time for soul searching.

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

    I do not think he should be on the air other than in relation to another candidate responding to his concerns and criticisms. He knows he won't win the election so his candidacy is particularly selfish at such a crucial time.

    February 25, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  5. godlesspriest

    If you perceive a groundswell of public support behind Nader, give him air time. But you won't. In our two-party system, there is a presumption that voters will only be interested in the major candidates. This presumption is rebuttable, as with Ross Perot and Teddy Roosevelt. But the burden is on a 3rd-party candidate to show he is for real before he gets rewarded w/ valuable air time.

    February 25, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  6. George

    Wolf, you should give Mr. Nader AS MUCH time as you give to both Obama (who I support) and Clinton–he will raise issues that directly affect every American (e.g. Global Warming, a topic that mainstream media has discussed <1% of the time; toxins in food and products; campaign financing; etc.) and hold the other candidates accountable that the mainstream media could never do based on their relationship with (both in ownership and sponsorship) corporate America.

    February 25, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  7. d

    He is a Candidate. ALL candidates should get the SAME TIME, PERIOD. This is what was wrong with the beginning debates.......everyone was NOT treated equal within the debates OR by the Media. Almost like the Media is choosing who is actually running. That's not the Democracy I know and love.

    February 25, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  8. Natalia

    Give him little to no time. It's a complete waste because he has no real chance at winning and if anything, will only distract people from the candidates who are actually electable and what is more important: what THEY have to say. He seems like an egotistical person straight off the boat from fantasy land. If he really wants to make a difference he should run for senate or congress – he doesn't really want to make a difference he just wants the attention. If he wanted to be a credible candidate he should have entered the race a LONG time ago.

    February 25, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  9. Cathy

    Give him as much airtime as you give Hillary...None

    February 25, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  10. Jaideep

    By throwing his hat in the ring, he should get whatever air time he can afford but by no means should the media give him much attention by entering such a tight race so late. He's in it to mess things up, for someone that knows he will never win. He's just another Huckabee. GIVE UP!!!

    February 25, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  11. Benjamin

    Im glad that you are asking everyone's opinion on this. During the early stages of the primaries, i felt like many of the minor candidates were all but ignored. I hope that nader will be given more time then that. People should be aware of what he stands for, let him talk about his platform and why he would be the best candidate rather then just showing him to have him defend his candidacy all the time.

    February 25, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  12. Dave Brosch

    CNN tends to lean toward the Dems. This guy is bad for them. Why hurt the Dems by giving this guy much notice? Yes, he is a "news item", but his chances of getting elected are nil. I am a man 58 years of age. I remember Nader years ago when he was a pioneer of sorts for consumer rights. He had a much higher national profile back then. I imagine many younger people have never heard of him. I certainly don't think he bears daily reporting on how his campaign is going. No one cares. Most liberal types that would support Nader, would probably find either of these very liberal and progressive thinking (as far as Democratic types are concerned) Democractic canditates, acceptable. If not, they are very naive. This is the closest they will probably ever come to seeing "their" kind of candidate having a realistic chance to win the Presidency. db

    February 25, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. Sam Wolf

    How much air time for Nader? Zero.

    I don't like special interests and corporate lobbyists in Washington either. I have always been an environmentalist.

    Should I throw my hat in the ring because I think that Clinton or Obama won't address the issues enough to satisfy me?

    Nader has done nothing to contribute politically. He only criticizes – like all of us. He deserves as much attention as Mike Gravel.

    February 25, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. M.Bax

    Nader should get the same amount of time as any other candidate.
    Why would you even need to ask the question? Don't we stand on the belief that we are all equal? At least, we'd all like to believe that at some point in our lives.

    We are ALL HUMAN BEINGS, and that's the only label that is acceptable. I am very sick and tired of slapping a "label" of some kind on everyone!

    February 25, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. Patrick

    The two party system has a long tradition in American history. At the same time, the impact of third parties have influenced the United States to pursue women's suffrage, civil rights, and much more. Although he may not currently have the support of the current Democratic and Republican candidates, he advocates for many of the ideals and principles of the American public. His voice needs to be heard in order to have an open and productive discussion on the direction of America. The media has a vital role in this discussion and should therefor provide Nadar with the same media coverage as the other candidates. Failure to do so would be undemocratic.

    February 25, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  16. a dhaliwal

    Nader who ?

    February 25, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  17. Steve from AZ

    How much time do you devote to Mike Gravel, who is still on the Democratic ticket. Exactly, None. Why should Nader get anymore than that?

    February 25, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  18. Mitchell Shron

    The problem here is separating the man from the message. Corporate greed, outright theft of billions in public monies in Iraq and degradation of our environment for a short term boost on quarterly profits ought to be part of every major candidates' attention.These are all worthy of as much airtime as is needed to bring them to the attention of the voters. I realize Nader runs to bring these issues to life and I respect (and even voted) for him. However, even Don Quixote can be tiring after a while.

    February 25, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. edsbowlingshoe

    How much time? None – of course. He'll get under one percent of the vote, and the general public is already familiar with his shtick from past campains. Keep the focus where it's due – on the candidates who have a real shot.

    February 25, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  20. Jason Carter

    He should get less airtime than Ron Paul does. I think Paul has more popular support.

    February 25, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  21. Nick - TX

    There are a number of third party candidates who have been in the running for the past year and with this one ticker article Nader already has more media attention than they could ever hope to have.

    At this point, with Nader having received less than 1% of the vote in 2004, CNN has already given him more attention than he rightfully deserves. Unless he does something to show that he may actually be relevant in the 2008 election you should his campaign like the vanity run that it is.

    February 25, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  22. Jeb

    As a third party "candidate" is he on the ballots anywhere? Will he be? Should he be given more time than Ron Paul, who is a major party candidate? Did Ron Paul get 15 minutes on Meet The Press? Our nation has developed and fleshed-out a party system over many generations for selecting a President. Mr. Nader chooses not to participate in that system, but to thumb his nose at it instead. How much time would you give to Rush Limbaugh if he announced as an Independent candidate, catering to the right instead of the left? The question should be one of legitimacy, and Mr. Nader has none at this point. He cannot win the election. Unlike Ross Perot, Mr. Nader does not know when to stop feeding his ego at the expense of the electorate.

    February 25, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  23. Rick from Greater Boston

    Since he got 0.4% of the vote last time, how about 0.4% of the coverage? Yes, I'm still bitter about 2000 and I'm tired of seeing him every four years, I don't care what he's done or what he stands for. I can't really blame him personally for the George Bush debacle, since it's really the fault of the people who wasted their votes on Nader and cost Gore Florida, but it sure is tempting to blame him.

    February 25, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  24. Juneau

    The data are clear based on his showing in 2000 and 2004 - as a non-viable candidate, he should get little to no air time.

    February 25, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  25. Ricardo Barrios

    Nader has not chance to win. He maybe will get some minutes on TV, because is the "third one" and everybody remember what happened in Florida 8 years ago. He cant make a shadow over Obama as well who will be the next president of USA.

    February 25, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
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