The man many angry Democrats credit for putting George W. Bush in the Oval Office is fired up, and ready to spoil. Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate meets perennial third party candidate, announced this past Sunday that he is running for president once again.
“When you see the paralysis of the government, when you see Washington D.C., be corporate-occupied territory, every department agency controlled by overwhelming presence of corporate lobbyists, you – one feels and obligation,” Nader said, as he made his announcement on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And in that context, I have decided to run for President.”
The Princeton graduate had entertained the possibility of sitting 2008 out, expressing support for Edwards, whom he called the Democratic party’s “glimmer of hope” in an interview with “Politico” from just before the Iowa caucuses. With only McCain, Obama, and Clinton left in the mix, however, Nader has decided to run once again, vowing to get his name on ballots in all fifty states.
Nader, who called Clinton a “panderer and a flatterer” on CNN earlier this month, and qualified Obama as “a person of substance,” whose “better instincts and knowledge have been censored by himself,” on “Meet the Press” just days ago, is openly and vocally critical of both remaining Democratic contenders
And many Democrats are critical of Nader, citing his 96,837 votes in Florida – a state that George W. Bush carried by only 537 votes – as the key votes that could have put Al Gore in The White House.
Nader vehemently denies the spoiler title, describing the now-commonplace accusations as “really very astonishing,” when asked about them on “Meet the Press.” He elaborated: “These are the two parties who’ve spoiled our electoral system, money, they can’t even count the votes, they steal – the Republicans steal the votes, and the Democrats knock third party candidates off the ballot.”
Nader also ruled out the possibility of his candidacy standing in the Democrats’ way come November. “If the Democrats can’t landslide the Republicans this year,” he told Tim Russert, “they ought to just wrap up, close down, emerge in a different form.”
The Democratic candidates were quick to respond to Nader’s announcement dismissively. “I remember when he did this before, it didn’t turn out too well, for anyone, especially our country,” said Hillary Clinton, after hearing the news from reporters shouting questions. “I hope it’s kind of just a passing fancy that people won’t take too seriously.”
Barack Obama, too, dismissed Nader this past Saturday, as “somebody who, if you don’t listen and adopt all of his policies, thinks you’re not substantive.” In a town hall meeting after Nader’s announcement on Sunday, Obama went on to question the candidate’s judgment: “He thought that there was no difference between Al Gore and George Bush,” said Obama, “and eight years later I think people realize that Ralph did not know what he was talking about.”
If Obama wins the Democratic nomination and Nader tips the election in favor of Republicans once again, it will not be the first time the 74-year-old puts the Junior Senator from Illinois out of work. In his memoir “Dreams from My Father,” Obama recalls his “three months working for a Ralph Nader offshoot in Harlem, trying to convince the minority students at City College about the importance of recycling.” He goes on to describe the story’s outcome: “In six months, I was
broke, unemployed, eating soup from a can.”
One major party candidate, at least, has expressed enthusiasm about Nader’s candidacy. “I think it always would probably pull votes away from the Democrats, not the Republicans,” said Mike Huckabee to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “so naturally Republicans would welcome his entry into the race and hope that maybe a few more will join in.”