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

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

    Mike, Eugene, Oregon June 25th, 2008 1:18 pm ET

    The phrase "self promoting gasbag" comes to mind whenever we see Ralph Nader or James Dobson blathering their latest garbage. They are merely two sides of the same coin.


    Do alll politicians not self-promote themselves? That would include your "liberal guilt" candiate Sen. Obama.

    You people think Mr. Nader is a nutjob because the only time you hear from him (because you won't do research yourself) is when he says something that is true, not what you want to hear and/or "shocking".

    The hatred towrads Ralph Nader from the Democratic Patry is ridiculous. Your party couldn't get enough votes. It's that simple. Maybe you should try to figure out why so many people found Ralph Nader better qualified than the Vice President and a popular Senator.


    ** Nader/Gonzalez 2008 **

    June 25, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. Independent in Iowa

    As one of the "angry Clinton supporters", I'm starting to come around to Obama. I really like what he said about finding a long term solution to our oil crisis instead of throwing a bandaid on the issue.

    The Clintons still need to be a major part of his team – I imagine we are going to see a lot of good things in the next few years.

    I can't believe I'm going to say it, but go Obama! I'm not 100% sure I trust you but yet, that's what you get with all politicians. Don't forget Clinton and her supporters. You are doing all the right things so far.

    June 25, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  3. The Dude

    When did the left become so bigoted? So far in the Democratic campaign, I've seen racism, misogyny, ageism, sexism and many other isms....these people are suppose to bring us together???

    June 25, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. Ed North Carolina

    I am sitting here somewhat amazed at the heated back and forth of the responses and it is only June and neither candidate has actually been formally nominated by their party. Let's wait until after the conventions are over, we know you the VP candidate will be and hear a few debates before we make a decison. Such strong opinions based on so little information about the issues from either candidate. I guess it is easier not to think about things too much. Just draw that line in the sand now.

    June 25, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  5. independent voter

    Go Nader!

    Guess the truth bothers those obamanites.

    obama got into politics by playing DIRTY politics in Chicago.

    Those who support obama must have their heads in sand.

    What change?

    June 25, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. Heather


    I'm not convinced he isn't on Bush's payroll. But if so, it'll backfire. This type of thing will only help Obama.

    June 25, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  7. David

    Nader, at this point, is desperately irrelevant – trying hopelessly to have an impact.

    Not to throw around labels, but Mike is a supremicist. And by the way, Mike, it's not because he's old that I won't vote for him. It's because he's wrong – about everything.

    He's wrong if he thinks that Vietnam can be won in Iraq.

    He's wrong if he thinks that he can continue to pander to big oil and help the environment.

    He's wrong if he thinks the U.S. economy will sustain a one hundred year war ( I know that this is hyperbole – an ongoing war) with tax rates at their current levels.

    He's wrong if he thinks that he can fuel a green economy and continue to subsidize big oil companies that don't need our tax dollars anyway.

    He's just wrong, Mike, and I'm sorry that you're too narrow-minded/fearful/racist to see that. Barack Obama is about as racist as you are intelligent – sorry if you're too dumb to know that's not a compliment.

    In closing, go to hell.

    June 25, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  8. For Obama

    What issue does this guy really care about?
    Why is he really running for president?
    why can't he address those issues that he feels obama should address?
    Why isn't he talking about himself and his policies?
    What is really wrong with him?

    June 25, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  9. Kiah

    Well Mr. Nader just figured out how to get the attention his highly ignored campaign needed. Say Obama's name. It works wonders for people. Just bring up his name and bam, cameras everywhere!

    Obama '08!

    June 25, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  10. David

    People don't get upset for a lie, they get upset by the truth. I see Obama's supporters getting upset by Nader's comments.

    June 25, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  11. Erika

    Just a note, if you read Obama's blueprint for change, he outlines not only his legislative accomplishments in addressing poverty, but also a plan to lift more Americans out of it. I sometimes notice that many issues addressed by both Obama and McCain in their respective proposals are not highlighted in the media, such as their education plans. I would recommend that Nader check out each of the major party candidate's websites to see where they stand on a number of issues that do not come up everyday in the political news.

    June 25, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  12. Kristy

    Maybe Nader needs a couple of obvious pointers here:

    Obama isn't only concerned with what black, white, hispanics etc. need, he is looking at the big picture for this country.

    If Nader could step back and look at the direction this country is headed in and our very immediate problems (trillions spent on a war is not going to aid efforts to increase funds for impoverished communities) I don't think he'd be asking why Barack isn't just talking about helping to solve the issues poor people face in this country.

    His comments were more stupid than they were racist.

    June 25, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. Obama: Carter's 2nd Term

    OBAMA 08!!! June 25th, 2008 1:14 pm ET

    When Ralph Nader decides to change his race to African American then he can talk about what an African American politician should be concerned about.


    I agree that Nader is a fool, but what is it that you have to be African American to talk about thoses issues???? That is dumb. Going by that rule Obama could only half speak to those issues.

    June 25, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. Voice of Reason

    Nader is just jealous that he has never been able to wear his ethnic background proudly on his sleeve like Barack. Barack is a proud African American, Nader is an Arab (Lebanese) American, but afraid to say it.

    June 25, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. Wow

    what exactly is "Talking White"?

    Is Nader suggesting that black people aren't educated? That its impossible for black people to complete a sentence?


    June 25, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  16. Keith

    Oh wait....I can.

    June 25, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Farrell, Houston, Tx


    June 25, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. Rory

    The last time I checked, Obama is doing a pretty good job without Nader's advice.

    That said, I've often heard Obama talk about cracking down on unfair lending practices, more transparency in credit, a more public early childhood education system, affordable healthcare, etc., all of which helps lower income households.

    It appears to me that Nader isn't really paying attention to the Presidential race that he's a part of. Wake up Nader!

    June 25, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. lil

    Sorry about my bad english.
    correction not--–for us african american children.

    Continue.............. For Our african american children.

    June 25, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. Rob Robbins

    Apparently, in Ralph Nader's liberal, racist world, an African American speaking intelligently is seen as "talking white." God forbid because an intelligent African American may decide to no longer reside on the plantation white liberals have created for African Americans and other minorities.

    It's no wonder liberals such as myself are sick and tired of the politically correct stupidity coming from white liberals and, in general, the Democratic Party.

    June 25, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  21. Justin

    I wish all the people that so openly hate Nader would actually take a look at all the amazing things he's done for this country. Seriously – do a minute of reading on his life before writing him off. Nader has a point about the politicians in this country avoiding talking about meaningful change. Or, doing anything meaningful. But, more than ever, our politicians represent ourselves, I think. I see a lot of complaining about the state of the country, and absolutely no effort (by most) to do anything about it. Other than throw $$$ at a politician. That's not enough.

    June 25, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  22. Debra Cahalane

    I just have to laugh on this one. Ralph Nader has become ridiculous. He should go back to being a consumer advocate and stay out of politics. Perhaps that way he could get his white foot out of his mouth.

    June 25, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Didn't Obama say that he would be accused of being too black and not black enough? Well, here's the latter, and the former has been out there from the beginning.

    Yet, when Obama says this will happen he's accused of playing the race card.

    It doesn't take a genius to know where these attacks will come from; Obama is doing the right thing by getting out in front of them. He's acting just the way I wished Kerry and Gore had acted. Had they done so, imagine how different things would be now.

    I like Obama more every day.

    June 25, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  24. John McHenry

    Well Mr Nader, I'm a Republican but I'm Voting for OBAMA because we need to turn the page from OLD POLITICIANS who have been in legislating for a longtime but could not gforsee that the IRAQ war will destroy ouy economy and end the LIVES of OUR YOUNGMEN. This youngman saw it and said we need to fight BIN LADIN and you saw nothing wrong with going to IRAQ to fight there.
    You should realized by now that majority of Americans do noy buy your kind of ideas. OBAMA is a new FRESH AIR for the country and now I'M an OBAMACAN and will never vote for anybody but OBAMA. Thank you. He OBAMA is not black per say but also he is part WHITE , so he does have part of my caucasian genes so how can he be only black. Shame on you

    June 25, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  25. Substance not Rhetoric

    As for those who don't understand what is racist about this. Why does he presume that this is the way Obama is all the time. He was raised by his white grand parents in KANSAS. I doubt if he will talk like someone from montgomery alabama. Especially after going to Harvard.

    But evidently if you are a black man you have to placate to the BLACK people so you can be down with the hood. Well maybe he expects it because HIllary started her feminis,t line that Obama needs to become the great BLACK LIBERATOR.

    June 25, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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