June 25th, 2008
04:45 PM ET
15 years ago

Nader: Obama trying to 'talk white'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/25/art.nader.gi.jpg caption="Nader is taking heat for his latest comments."](CNN) - Ralph Nader's presidential candidacy has received little media attention, but his latest critique of Barack Obama has come under fire for it's seemingly racial overtones.

Speaking with Colorado's Rocky Mountain News, Nader accused Obama of attempting to both "talk white" and appeal to "white guilt" in his quest to win the White House.

"There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American," Nader told the paper in comments published Tuesday. "Whether that will make any difference, I don't know. I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What's keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson? We'll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards."

Obama's presidential campaign called those comments disappointing, and his communication's director, Robert Gibbs, said Tuesday they were "reprehensible and basically delusional."

"I don't think he's spent a lot of time looking at the record of Barack Obama," Gibbs said on MSNBC.

Nader, the longtime consumer advocate who was blamed by many Democrats for Al Gore’s loss in the 2000 presidential election, said Obama's top issue should be poverty in America, given his racial heritage.

Watch: Why is Nader running for president

Full story


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Ralph Nader
soundoff (284 Responses)
  1. ftljeff40

    Ralph Nadar needs to go crawl in a hole and stay there. He is the biggest egomaniac out there and he needs to stay out of the election and just shut up. This guy has failed at everything he has ever tried to do since his one victory concerning auto safety 40 years ago!

    Another bitter old white man who needs to just fade away.

    June 25, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. Andrea Evans

    For goodness sake! HE'S HALF WHITE! I don't understand the rationale that says that if you are dark complected, you are considered black. I don't personally agree with him politically, but I don't understand why his race has to be an issue. He is a well spoken, educated, intelligent candidate. Focus on the issues people!

    June 25, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Rick FL

    Who cares what Nader thinks with this misguided race-baiting? He seems to be too much of a Republican lackey anyway.

    It will not work this time.

    Obama '08

    June 25, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. celene

    Get ready cause there is no way if he wins that race will not be an issue on both sides.
    There will be misunderstandings, angry and upset people over the most ridiculous things.
    Cause thats all we have had for years..Misunderstandings based totally on the race of the person making the comments.

    June 25, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Anna

    Isn't the whole point of a truly integrated society that one must not do *anything* simply because of the color of one's skin? The fact that Barack Obama is half African-American should not automatically determine which issues he chooses to focus on during his campaign and potential presidency. And anyone who says that Senator Obama isn't focusing on the living wage debate clearly has not been paying attention. Furthermore, Senator Obama isn't running for president of the United States of African-Americans, he's running for president of the United States. His attention should be helping citizens of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. His past experience as a community organizer and the remarkable response and rapport he's seen on the campaign trail put him in a unique position to have perspective on issues facing all kinds of Americans – as it should be. I look forward to hearing from a candidate so in touch with communities that are not generally focused on in campaign seasons. I value Senator Obama's connections to the African-American community, and to communities of all kinds that are not getting the kind of help and support that they need. But I do not think his attention should be strictly limited to only issues challenging those communities. As a nation, we have many issues and concerns that need addressing and a good candidate, and Senator Obama is a good candidate, should be able to speak to both kinds. Nader's comment is ill-advised, slightly racist in tone, and the hallmark of a candidate who's forgotten the real reason to run as a Democratic nominee for the office of President of the United States of America. I'm disappointed in Mr. Nader.

    June 25, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. George

    Is racism so ingrained in the American psyche that folks seem unaware of when they are making idiotic racist comments?

    June 25, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. Bob Shore

    Please Mr. Nader, retire while you still have a shred of reputation left.

    " the number one thing that a black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor"

    Only if he wants to be elected as the president of black America. But he's running to be elected as everyone's president. That's one of the many things he should do, yes, but not necessarily the first thing.

    June 25, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  8. Disgusted

    It's kind of sad to watch a man at the end of the trail. Instead of offering wisdom and insight to a younger generation, his discussion appears to be out of touch and irrelevant

    June 25, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  9. Didine - Maryland

    Ralph Nader, please give us a break. Why are you playing the race card? You don't have no chance to win this election. You are nut with your comment, please go home!

    Obama '08

    June 25, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  10. Nicole H.

    Oh, my... public figures and politicians are always putting their foot in their mouths and then appologizing later, saying that they didn't mean it the way it came out, or "maybe I should have said it this way, or that way..." But this is absolutely irrevocable. It's pure stereotyping by a privleged white man. No way to take that back, but then who cares – no one even knows he's running anyway. What a bigot.

    June 25, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  11. OBAMA SUPPORTER IN IOWA

    Ralph,

    Put your hearing aid in your ear. You obviously haven't been listening to anything Obama has said. You also (obviously) haven't read either of his books.

    He's already changed politics in America, just by being a candidate. What have you done?

    June 25, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  12. L.V. from Minnesota

    As an African American Barack Obama supporter I would really like to see him address one issue. The fact is that 90% of us blacks voted for him. Now even though it helped him win the nomination, I would really like him to address the fact that blacks are voting for him solely because he is black. I am supporting Obama because I happen to be informed and I agree with where he stands on most issues. I think it would be great if he addressed our community and tell us that he doesnt want us to vote for him simply because he is black. I understand that there is an extremely strong desire to see one of us in the White House but if we vote for this guy solely based on his race, then we are no better than the whites that vote for McShame because of Obamas race.

    Ralph I love you, but you are dead wrong.... but I do understand that you need to bring exposure to your campaign. I encourage that all Americans give serious consideration to all candidates including 3rd party, and vote for the one who you believe will best address and deal with the issues that concern you.

    For me... that candidate is Barack Hussien Obama!!!!

    June 25, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  13. NADER '08 - SAY NO TO OBAMA

    NADER = TRUTH

    OBAMA = FALSE HOPE

    June 25, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  14. RC

    Now this kook. Just more looney behavior. Is this all they have? What a joke. What are ya Nader? A 8th grader? Sheeeesh

    June 25, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. BROWN

    I THINK THAT IS ONE OF THE MOST RIDICULOUS STATEMENTS I EVER HEARD MR. NADER SAY. I AM A OBAMA SUPPORTER WHO LIKE MR. NADER, BUT THAT COMMENT WAS APPLAUDING. MR. OBAMA IS RUNNING TO HELP ALL AMERICANS AND SUGGEST OTHERWISE SICKENING. I THINK MR. OBAMA REALIZE WHAT 95% OF ALL AMERICANS ARE GOING THROUGH. IT IS PATHETIC THAT ALOT OF PEOPLE ARE GRASPING AT STRAWS WHEN IT COME TO MR. OBAMA, IF YOU DONT LIKE THE GUY FINE, BUT TO GO AROUND JUST TEARING HIM DOWN IS A SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS. WE ALL HAVE TO START LEARNING HOW TO WORK TOGETHER SERIOUSLY, BECAUSE I THINK WE HAVE BECOME THE LAUGHING STOCK FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD.

    June 25, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. independent chris

    As far as spoiler contests go, Bob Barr will outspoil Nader by 3 to 1. I was a bit worried about the Nader spectre until Barr got into it. Thank goodness the old crank will be cancelled out.

    June 25, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. Jeff

    I used to respect Nader, but now he's talking like an idiot. The first and foremost thing that Obama needs to do is get elected, period. Yeah, its great that Nader can take on all of these issues and rant and rave, but he has no chance of ever getting elected. Obama can't do anything to make any change if, like Ralph Nader, he doesn't get elected. I really don't understand Nader and think that he should get out of this race and get behind Obama and understand that change can only come by getting into power in the first place.

    June 25, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. arc, Lugano CH

    Nader is simply trying to win over as many Hillary supporters as he can. He's no fool.

    June 25, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  19. Newsworthy Challenged

    FINALLY!

    June 25, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. rose

    why are all these people going after Obama? mmmmmmmmmmmmm something is fishing. WHO CAN SAY NO WHEN GOD SAYS YES? WHY CAN'T PEOPLE GET IT.

    June 25, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. Paula Lacey

    Ralph Nader, you're the reason Al Gore lost the election. Now, America is in a nightmare. Please, GO AWAY!

    June 25, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. Yes We CAN!

    Is this guy still alive?

    I think Nader and that Dobson guy are actually helping Obama by attacking him.

    Come on George W Bush, attack Obama. You too Dick Cheney...attack Obama. PLEASE!

    June 25, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  23. please

    Nader is obviously judging Obama without getting to know him, like a lot of people are. Obama chose to go to Chicago and work in the community instead of taking a high paid Washington job. He did do work to protect people from asbestos and lead. Ignorance is so disgusting!!

    Moreover, I am an African American woman who went to one of the top 20 colleges in the country. What does "talking white" mean? I am so sick of racist bigots trying to put educated African Americans in a box. I love my family and my community less because I am an intelligent black woman? Raise your children to be tolerant, caring individuals. This type of prejudice needs to die out.

    June 25, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. Doc

    Interesting that Nader is the one who "plays the race card." Why would Nader care how Obama was talking – unless Nader himself had nothing new to say? Nader has run so many times and said the same things every time. *Who cares what Ralph Nader says!*

    June 25, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. Susan, PA

    SHUT UP RALPH !!

    I always wanted to say this loud becuase my boss is names Ralph. Thanks to the Nader dude, he is a big-time water-cooler topic.

    June 25, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12