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

Nader snaps back at Obama, Clinton


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. John

    Does Ralph think he is the perfect candidate? Sure, Clinton and Obama aren't perfect, but 99% of Democrats are very happy with at least one. Sad that this guy actually used to stand for something. Now he just stands for himself.

    February 25, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  2. grayson, virginia

    More of the same B.S. These people and i mean all of the so called conserned politicians, are all a bunch of liars.They speak out of both sides of there mouth.

    February 25, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  3. George from Minneapolis

    Nader is a joke. How much is the republican party paying you this time Ralph.

    No one has to explain anything to you Ralphie boy. The best thing Obama and Clinton can do is ignore this maggot.

    Anyone who fall for this clown needs to have thier head checked.

    February 25, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  4. Tommy

    This man is VILE! What is wrong with him? The only thing he could possibly be trying to accomplish is splitting the Democratic vote and ensuring 4 more years of Republican rule. No one likes Nader and he will never be president. The man has no shame.

    February 25, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  5. Robert

    As minorities and women have successfully developed their own polictical agendas and representatives, it is clear that Ralph Nader is out of touch with both and should refrain from chastizing anyone's involvement in that area. Better to challenge something that he is familiar with; like '78 Horizon steering problems, etc. But then, that's outdated also.

    February 25, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  6. ONEIl

    I think Nader has come to prepare another place for the Republicans. We Independents won't give him a chance this time around. Where has he been all this while that he just wants to jump in the middle of nowhere to hand over the white house to the Republicans again.

    Nader you can NEVER and you will NEVER become the PRESIDENT of AMERICA.

    Shame on you – old man. You ought to be ashame of yourself. Stay at home and enjoy your old age.

    February 25, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. Pointless

    Nader who?

    February 25, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  8. Bill Fairfax, Va.

    Nader won't admit it, but he is responsible for Bush winning the election in 2000. Had Nader supported Gore, he (Gore) would have won, and the invasion of Iraq would have never happened.

    February 25, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  9. Dana Broxton

    dude get a life stop trying to slowly make headlines with your accusations! no body cares you are 74 to old to drive your car let alone drive the white house and you have ran for president 4 times and made us lose the election to president bush when al gore should have been the president but you cost us that. get a life!!! no body wants you for their president and you have sat out all the major states you are not going to win and you know this you are just trying to steal the nomination from someoneelse!!! Such a loser!!!!

    February 25, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  10. sophie

    finally, someone who has the guts to call obama out.
    i think i just made up my mind on who im voting for.
    go ralph!

    February 25, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  11. Roland Madore, Fort Collins, CO

    Nader's becoming a public nuisance–from being the consumer's advocate hero to spoiler to irrelevant....ahhhh, hubris.

    With the two-faced Hillary Clinton, I can’t seem to catch her Voice...what with all the mixed messages.

    Let's face it, we will never have a perfect president, but we will have a more perfect union with the election of Barack Obama and certainly a much, much better president over the last two.

    February 25, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  12. Concerned Voter

    I can't believe this is getting coverage.

    February 25, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |


    February 25, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  14. David

    You guys are nuts!! Nader being paid by the Republicans? Please... for once someone is actually living up to their message and engaging in his civic responsibilites. I think Nader running will change some of the talking points that we hear so often from Obama and Clinton. I wont vote for Nader, but his message is the clearest and most progressive out of all the candidates. Hopefully we can finally get a candidate that will carry out their campaign promises and work hard for the people. Nader will push Obama or Clinton to become that candidate.

    February 25, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  15. Kevin, Evansville IN

    I would love to have more than two parties, and respect what Nadar has tried to accomplish. Although, it seems also, the road to hell has been paved with good intentions.

    February 25, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  16. John

    Nader is all about himself. Time to hang it up, Ralph.

    February 25, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  17. Rich

    While I applaud your persistence, really Mr. Nader – you didn't win the election (or even come come close) in any of the other four or five bids. Why do it again?

    February 25, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  18. David

    This guy is going to ruin our nation. Back off nader, you are never going to win. Stop ruining america. You are tired, old, and are of no use to voters. Can someone pull the plug on him? We'd be better off without him ruining our elections.

    February 25, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  19. Judith German

    Someone needs to address the issues since the candidates don't do it and the press doesn't ask, investigate and report.

    February 25, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  20. stuart__zechman

    I think ralph nader is the best choice for this nation. I was all in support of Obama but now I support Nader.

    If you don't then you are a troll who supports McLame.

    February 25, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  21. Shawn Morrell

    A vote for Nader is a vote for Republicans. It was proven in 2000, and it will be proven now.

    Whether you support Clinton or Obama, You should be bothered by this guy. He's already talking about getting the courts involved. it's like he wants to purposely ruin the process.

    Although Im sad to say, those people who are so disillusioned by political pundits into despising Barack Obama might vote for Nader. Check your facts before you spit on Obama in such a narrow minded way.

    February 25, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. Paige

    Vote for REAL change...vote Nader!! Thank you for giving real progressives a good option Mr. Nader. This year I'm voting against corporate-owned candidates like Obama and Clinton and for the only candidate willing to talk about issues that matter – Ralph Nader.

    February 25, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  23. Dave, Branson MO

    When will he realize its just not going to happen. Its one thing to be optimistic about your abilities, but its another thing to just be so naive and stubborn. Please run for President because you really want to help this country and your fellow citizens. Its hard not to wonder why this guy wants so much publicity during Presidential campaigns and what are his real motivations. If this man is such an advocate then his energies and efforts are probably best served by focusing his resources and time on those philanthropic activities instead of trying to become President. Maybe his buddy Michael Moore should do a documentary on why this guy just doesn’t get it. Besides this hardheaded, stubborn, illusionist attitude is all to similar to our current President. Do we really need any more of what we already have?

    February 25, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  24. HD

    Nadir voters are the reason Bush is in the White House and are the reason we are in an endless war in Iraq. I am appreciative of the work Nadir has done over the years; however, I feel he should try running for the Senate or run as a governor. I hope the voters realize that by voting for this guy in November, they risk the chance of the republicans running the White House for 4 more years.

    Go Obama!

    February 25, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. AaronDaniel

    Thanks to Ralph Nader running in 2000, we have the WORST SUPREME COURT in history.

    Why isn't Ralph satisfied with getting ALIOTO and ROBERTS on the bench?

    Does Ralph want an entire Supreme Court of right wing, "strict constructionists" whose idea of a good country is one with nineteenth century values of corporate and states rights taking precedence over individual rights?

    Republican conservatives stand the most to gain by Ralph's campaign. That suggests to me that he is their stalking horse.

    February 25, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
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