February 25th, 2008
09:59 AM ET
7 years ago

Nader snaps back at Obama, Clinton

CNN

Watch Nader on CNN's American Morning Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Facing criticism from the two Democratic presidential contenders, Ralph Nader lashed out at them Monday and defended his decision to enter the race.

Speaking to CNN's "American Morning," the long-time consumer advocate accused Sen. Barack Obama of "name-calling" and "an unseemly silence" on issues involving poor minorities. And he accused Sen. Hillary Clinton of being too close to "big business" in America.

Many Democrats fear Nader could draw votes from whoever gets the party's nomination, potentially helping presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain win the White House in November. Nader has long rejected accusations that he served as a spoiler in 2000, effectively helping George W. Bush beat out Al Gore.

He announced Sunday that he will launch his fourth consecutive White House bid - fifth if his 1992 write-in campaign is included.

On Saturday, Obama was asked about a possible Nader candidacy. He praised Nader's work for consumers, but added, "My sense is that Mr. Nader is somebody who, if you don't listen and adopt all of his policies, thinks you're not substantive. He seems to have a pretty high opinion of his own work."

Nader responded in Monday's interview. "As if Barack Obama doesn't have a high opinion of his own work? That's name-calling.

"Address the issues, Barack. Address why you're not for single-payer health insurance... Explain why you don't challenge what you know as to be tens of billions of dollars of waste, fraud and abuse in the military budget.

Explain why you don't really get concrete about how you would renegotiate NAFTA and WTO, which is exporting jobs and industries to places like the communist dictatorship in China.

"And above all, explain why you don't come down hard on the economic crimes against minorities in city ghettos - payday loans, predatory lending, rent to own rackets, landlord abuses, lead contamination, asbestos. There's an unseemly silence by you, Barack, a community organizer in poor areas in Chicago many years ago on this issue."

Nader also took Clinton to task. On Sunday, she said Nader - whose environmental policies are central to his platform - "prevented Al Gore from being the 'greenest' president we could have had."

Nader stood by his contention that Gore won the 2000 race because he took the popular vote and because Florida's electoral vote "was stolen from him." Nader said Democrats should "concentrate on the thieves who steal elections," instead of "scapegoating the Greens" - a reference to the Green Party, the ticket he ran on in 2000.

"The Democrats ought to look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves why they have not been able to landslide the worst Republican Party and the White House and Congress over the last 20 years," he said.

And noting a quote from former Sen. John Edwards - whose endorsement has being sought by Clinton and Obama since he dropped out of the race - Nader said little will change "if we replace a corporate Republican with a corporate Democrat."

Referencing an article from last year, Nader called Clinton the Democrat "most loved by big business." The article he seemed to be referring to, from June 2007 in Fortune Magazine, said Clinton had "probably the broadest CEO support among the candidates" at that point. But it also said Obama had "a solid base of business support in Chicago" and had "fared well with Hollywood media moguls" and "aggressively moved into Clinton's turf among East Coast financiers."

Nader told CNN he does not believe any of the candidates, including McCain, will pull through on pledges to reduce the influence of special interests in Washington. "Of course not. First of all, if they wanted to do that, they'd put front and center public funding of public campaigns," cracking down on corporate crimes, and other issues.

"Washington has closed its doors on citizen groups," he complained, calling the nation's capital "corporate-occupied territory."

Talking about his decision to run, Nader - who turns 74 this week - said, "We have to give the system more competition, more voices, more choices, more freedom, more diversity."

– CNN's Josh Levs

soundoff (162 Responses)
  1. oldwhiteman

    RALPH NADER IS AN INSERT BY THE REPUBLICANS AND THE SUPER RICH SECRET CAPITALISTS IN THIS COUNTRY.hE IS HERE TO THROW THE ELECTIONS.

    February 25, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  2. Uncle Sam

    Go Ralph Nader! Barack Obama is beginning to show his true colors.

    February 25, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. Wil

    You've got to be kidding me, Nader is a joke. He is just a crazy old man, a vote for him is truly a waste. What the hell does he even represent anymore lmao !!

    February 25, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  4. Ben R. _NYC

    Nader will never win, but I do understand his point about a third option. However, he is clearly an egomaniac who is more concerned with his desparate and pathetic desire to be president, than a practical approach to electing the candidate closest to the values we want. No candidate is perfect, and fits everyone perfectly, but we have some candidates that can represent parts of us, and make differences we need. Nader, you are in some part responsible for Bush's win in 2000, and need to admit that. It is your right to run, but acknowledge that what you are doing may split off crucial votes for the "lesser" of two evils party.

    February 25, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  5. David Orbach, New York, NY

    Go away, please, before you do any more damage.

    February 25, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  6. Liz

    Obama just described himself when he made this observation of Nader:

    "My sense is that Mr. Nader is somebody who, if you don't listen and adopt all of his policies, thinks you're not substantive. He seems to have a pretty high opinion of his own work."

    February 25, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  7. Wiselectorate

    Running as a candidate has to do with viability. Is Mr. Nader candidacy viable? That is the question he should answer. if not, he is the spoiler.

    February 25, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  8. Greg, Athens

    Nader is insignificant, always has been. The problem is there will some insignificant morons that will vote for him.

    February 25, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  9. Steve, Seattle WA

    Nader just needs to go away....is there really any question that he's being paid by the Republicans to throw a wrench into things?

    February 25, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  10. oldwhiteman

    CNN AND ITS STUPID PUNDITS ARE ALL PRO CLINTONS...CONSTANTLY REPORTING ON OBAMA NEWS THAT MIGHT CAST DOUBT ...BUT WHEN HILARY DOES SOMETHING LIKE BLANTLY PLAGIARISE HERSELF I HEARD ABOUT IT ONCE ON THEIR PROPAGANDA AND SPIN .CNN IS NOT TRUSTWORTHY TO ME ANYMORE.SHOW HILARY FOR HOW CRAZY SHE IS.

    February 25, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  11. Rod

    Shut up Nader. I'd call you a has-been, but you're not even that. You are a wannabe has-been. Get lost. No one wants to hear from you.

    February 25, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  12. Tom

    I'm pretty sure the American voters won't make a mistake on this guy again – at least not in this important election year. Go Dem '08!

    February 25, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  13. Greg, NY

    Here we go, yesterday he said that if the Democrats don't win by a landslide they should pack up and leave. This indicates that he believes they will and/or wants them to win.

    Now here he is, starting with the negative attacks already. I hope (Copyright Obama Campaign 2008) that he is just trying to get the Dems to talk about these issues and is not seriously considering stealing their votes if it comes down to that.

    February 25, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  14. Kevin

    Maybe Nader will finally be able to bring out the truth about these candidates through his campaign – the media has to quote him. It's nice to hear the truth getting out.

    February 25, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  15. Gail

    And I thought Bill Clinton had a big ego....

    February 25, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  16. ron

    nader over barack anyday!!!!!!!!!

    February 25, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  17. John

    nader your a fool, go jump in a lake.

    February 25, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  18. RealityKing

    Reduced voter choice is to Obama and Billary's benefit. Get it..

    February 25, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  19. Mark

    Ralph Nader is a rep and anyone can see that. He only joins the races to take away indpenedent voters who would vote for dem and not rep.

    February 25, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  20. Lucia

    I'd vote for Nader in a heartbeat if it was a choice among him, Obama and Clinton. At least Nader know the Dem liberals will continue to spend, spend, spend and with regard to taxes – raise, raise, raise.

    February 25, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  21. jsaofusa

    I am so pleased Mr. Nader is in the race. If Senator Obama wins the Democratic nomination, now I have someone for whom to vote.

    It's Senator Clinton or Mr. Nader. If he splits the Democratic vote, then so be it. I can not in all good conscience vote for Senator Obama, the evangelist or Senator McCain, the war monger.

    February 25, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  22. LeftyLadig

    There is nothing to say on Ralph Nader. He is a joke.

    February 25, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  23. lglaw (Oregon)

    Idealistic young men sometimes become angry, and then just old. Mr. Nader has done excellent work in his day. He seems too myopic to realize it is no longer his day. I hope his anger isn't infectious, and doesn't cause collateral damage this time around.

    February 25, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  24. Independant

    First it was the environment and save the whales, etc., etc.,etc. Now that both parties are now on the " environmental bandwagon", it`s shifted to political corruption, etc., etc.,etc. By the way, it was Gore and an "avalanche" of world scientists that finally tipped the scales and forced both parties, especially Republicans to even talk about it.-- Nader is going to run every election.It`s the only way he can garner TV time.- Don`t waste our tax money running.

    February 25, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  25. Zach

    Obama and Nader can both run on promises platfrom. Both are delusional candidates. Their followers have no real concept of electoral process or policy issues.

    February 25, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
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