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. Darth Vadik, CA

    Nader has done great things for consumer rights, but he just is not presidential material.

    Thank you Ralph but rest your old bones on this one OK

    February 25, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  2. Josh


    NADER '08!

    February 25, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  3. jchagop

    the more voices in the race the better. what we need is an election system that works with multiple parties to allow an initial round of voting followed by a final election between the top two candidates.

    February 25, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. Milton, Harrisburg, PA

    Well Hillary and Barack–I strongly suggest you steal his thunder! Talk greener and kill the corporate oligarchy that is Washington. Talk about oil companies in Iraq and what you will do about them. Talk about the "misplacement" of 60 billion dollars in military spending. Talk about tighter consumer protection guidelines. Throw it on top of the stump speech and Nader will go away. If you won't do it, then we'll know what he is saying is true.

    February 25, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  5. GO AWAY!!!!

    omg..he is such a moron. For once people, use your brain, DON'T vote for him!!!!! we dont want another republican in the white house!

    February 25, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  6. AJ

    "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."

    Oh my, that is pretty hypocritical coming from a do nothing Senator who has decided and convinced the democratic electorate that he is the "Second Coming."
    Obama is a disaster waiting to happen.

    If he should get the nomination, urge all Hillary supporters to vote for McCain or Nader in the fall.

    February 25, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  7. Steve

    If Ralph Nader stays in this campaign until Novemer you can count on John McCain winning the White House. Many progressive thinking Democrats dissatisfied with the status quo will vote for him out of principle. The Republicans are licking their chops!

    February 25, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. Marsh

    While he might have been able to plead ignorance in 2000, this time Nader knows that he can only hurt the Democratic candidate if he runs. I've lost all respect for him.

    February 25, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  9. Kathryn Irby

    Ralph Nader is nothing more than a menace. He proved that when Al Gore was running for President! He should just evaporate into space!!!

    Kathryn Irby
    Metairie, LA

    February 25, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. TJ Shivers

    We love you Ralph, but this election is too important to the world and to America for you to play around with. Democracy IS about the will of the people... but it’s also about math. If the Republicans win again, the will of the people will NOT have prevailed!

    February 25, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  11. Marie Mtl, Can.

    Not again,
    please is anybody could tell him once for all , that there is no curtains for his personnal computer because he's got windows.

    February 25, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. Gillis

    The old man Nada is out of touch. He thinks he could just call up and intimidate Barack. He has another think comming.

    February 25, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. roger lodge Wisconsin

    barack who?
    he is finished.

    nader over barack all the way

    February 25, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. John in PA

    Nader, while insignificant, has a purpose, and he just showed it. Since Hillary isn't allowed to say "boo" to Obama, God forbid, Nader is like a breath of fresh air. Obama is nothing more than an egomaniacal name-caller himself, and Nader is exposing that. He is also going to hold Obama's feet to the fire on the issues (or his lack of substance on those issues) in a way that the media does not allow Hillary to do.

    Know this, if Obama is the candidate, Nader pulls all the Hillary votes away from him, and McCain wins.

    February 25, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  15. Sal

    He will bring change. LOL

    Obama or Hillary 08

    February 25, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  16. Martha

    Ralph Nada, a 74 yr. , never worked a day in his life individual, rides on contributions of hardworking people and talks about helping the poor. Nada, please there are senior citizens who need your help with the roses. Why is it every four years Nada rears his ugly head to address the issues that every candidate brings up, what the heck was he doing for the past eight years. This toad needs to go away and remain in hibernation.

    February 25, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  17. dan

    I think Hilary and Barack are spoiling Nader's campaign... just like Al Gore spoiled Nader's campaign in 2000 and let the republicans take over.

    February 25, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. Dan

    No vote is a wasted vote if you believe in what the candidate stands for.

    People need to get this through their thick skulls. Nader did NOT steal any votes from Gore. You can not own what you do not have.

    The arrogance by the Democrats and Republicans (Ron Paul bashers) against third party candidates and Independents is sickening.

    February 25, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  19. Sokol

    If you really listen to Ralph Nadar, rather than keep your grudges up
    after the Al Gore debacle of 2000, he is the only canidate that is
    speaking up about political and corporate corruption. I should add
    the third part in the trifecta of American corruption is the judical system.
    Come on Ralph, talk about the denial of due process rights to parents and poor people.

    February 25, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  20. david

    I'm glad he's shining light on the lack of substance that is Barack Obama.

    However, he took votes from Gore in 2000 and look what we got...Bush. We will get McCain (and 4 more yrs of Bush policies) because of him.

    Democrats Unite!! Elect Hillary as your nominee. It's your only hope. Don't be stupid. The Republicans (and the press) and salivating to make a rag doll out of the ultra liberal Obama. They are Republicans!

    February 25, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  21. Franky

    Nadar, please disappear to thin air else, you`ll be greatly disgraced. The best we expect from you is to align with can Obama to be president

    February 25, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  22. Shane

    Im one of the insignificant morons who will vote for him.

    February 25, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  23. sean southern california

    Roger (Nader Fan) you ought to leave Wisc. they overwhelmingly voted for Barack!

    Nader is a Republican ploy.... Purpose: take away INDEP votes.

    Tell me... If he cares so much about the poor then why would he help the Rep. win the whitehouse (REPEATEDLY).
    His reason is a lie – he's there to keep Rep. in the whitehouse period.
    He's been running for President for almost 2 decades (why would anyone vote for him?) Easy answer: The average American is an IDIOT!

    February 25, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  24. Carol

    Of course, Nader over Obama, its even moore foolish. Bring um all over from Obama to Nadar. Cnn is chicken to post all my commnets they think someone might be offended. Wimps

    February 25, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  25. Lester Aponte

    As I was growing up, I only heard the name "Ralph Nader" used derisively by my conservative father. Now it is Democrats who depise him. How clueles can one man be? He provided Bush with the margin of victory in 2000. He has become a joke, a symbol of selfish arrogance. He has undermined everything he ever fought for. Yet he persists on this foolish course of action. As it turns out, my Dad was right about him.

    February 25, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
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