Ask the Candidate: Nader on Nader

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Ralph Nader, the consumer activist, announced yesterday that his hat is officially in the ring as a independent candidate for president in November (it's a hat that spends a lot of time in the ring.) Neither major party, he said, is representing the American people, and he argues that he can fill that void. Tom Regan, our news blogger, has been trying to gauge reaction to the announcement today. And we're going to talk with candidate Nader, and give you a chance to talk with him. We've spoken with several of the major party presidential hopefuls in recent months, and have invitations in to the remaining candidates. Today, it's your chance to ask one third-party candidate what he stands for, and what he hopes to bring to the race.



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What would be your top 3 priorities as president?

Sent by jonny Goldstein | 2:58 PM | 2-25-2008

I made a commentary on Nader's run in 2003 which still seems relevant. People who think that the Dems don't represent the nation should engage in the same kind of peaceful insurgency that the Dean Progressives have been staging for years now. The party will move if people engage with it. However, Nader's run brings us nothing but division.

If you want to change the system, change it from within. The alternative is taking up arms, which I really don't see as productive.

Sent by Shava Nerad | 3:09 PM | 2-25-2008

I have just sent this to TALK OF THE NATION as an e-mail message, although I know that the show probably received a thousand messages like it:

Mr. Nader, I voted for you in 1996 & in 2000 & was proud to do so each time.

I do NOT blame you for the election of George Bush in 2000. Each voter voted his/her preference, and, if Al Gore had not moved so far to the right throughout the campaign year (except for the one week after the convention), then many people (including me) would've voted for him instead of for you, and the Supreme Court couldn't have snatched the election for Bush.

That, however, is all water under the bridge. Since 2000, you have, unfortunately, turned running for president simply into a habit and a distraction.

In 2004, you didn't declare until March. This time is essentially the same. I have admired you my entire life (which began as you launched your years as a very important & courageous consumer advocate), and I agree with many of your ideas, but running for president is not simply a game, a means to get a few minutes coverage for your ideas & to legitimize gathering donations for oneself.

There is nothing wrong in running for office through a small party, but the presidency is serious business, and you would serve all of us better if you became an advisor to one of the candidates or began a public interest group, promoting many of these very useful, very intelligent ideas.

Do not turn the presidential year into a quadrennial ego trip.

Sent by Matthew Bond | 3:09 PM | 2-25-2008

Were my questions for Nader read aloud on the air, suffice it to say NPR would receive FCC fines massive enough to bring down the network.

Sent by Victoria Marinelli | 3:10 PM | 2-25-2008

I wonder if Mr. Nader still believes there was no difference between George W. Bush and Al Gore. It is an interesting parlor game to speculate on what the U.S. would be like if Gore had been named president in 2000. Does Mr. Nader ever play that game? Especially, since his candidacy played a role in the outcome.

Sent by Mary Jo Toumert | 3:12 PM | 2-25-2008

If Ralph Nader really wants to help the United States, he should work to elect a Democrat. It would be wonderful if we had a system that allowed third-party candidates a chance to win, but the fact is we don't. The only thing a Nader candidacy will accomplish is helping to elect John McCain. Does Mr. Nader really want that? It's bad enough he helped elect George W. Bush. Is his egomania so much that he can live with twelve years of Republicans on his conscience?

Sent by Lynn Klyde-Silverstein | 3:14 PM | 2-25-2008

Mr. Nader, thank you for telling us why you are running in 2008.

I did not know that anyone running for President has to meet with you before the election or you will run.

You characterized their inability to meet you is hubris.

If you want to see what hubris looks like, pay careful attention to what you see in the mirror next time you shave.

Sent by Bob Y. | 3:24 PM | 2-25-2008

I'm sick of the Democratic Party, a collection of special interest groups, whining about the last election. Maybe if the put up a decent enough candidate they would have won.

Sent by Timothy Brummett | 3:25 PM | 2-25-2008

It's ironic that Mr. Nader used the word "hubris" to describe the candidates of the two major political parties. In fact, when I was learning what the word "hubris" meant, I said "use it in a sentence." Mr. Nader's name was in that sentence. And then I understood.

Sent by a. | 3:29 PM | 2-25-2008

My question for NPR is are they going to give the same amount of airtime to every candidate who was on the ballot in least 34 states in 2004 or got 0.4% of the vote nationally like Mr. Nader did in 2004? If not, they why is Mr. Nader on?

Sent by Terry Rensel | 3:30 PM | 2-25-2008

I would like to ask Mr. Nader does he realize just what he is doing to his reputation. He is going to be remembered as another William Jennings Bryatn. Instead of denying the fact he was the final nail in the coffin of the Al Gore's presidential campaign - not the primary reason he lost but one of many, ANY ONE OF WHICH WOULD HAVE PREVENTED GEORGE BUSH'S PRESIDENCY.

Why doesn't he instead do what the religious right did with the Republican party, and leverage his agenda into Democratic primaries. Today, almost no Republican dares run unless he or she runs on a "Family Values" program. Mr. Nader would have a larger and more long-lasting impact if he did this. Of course, this would ruin his image of the matryed and put-upon outsider, and he might have put aside some of his ego and actually learn that success word in American politics - compromise.

Sent by Shawn Carroll | 3:38 PM | 2-25-2008

Ralph Nader PLEASE bring your over inflated ego in check and STAY OUT OF THIS ELECTION!!!!

You do nothing but harm and we would be much better off with out YOU.

All you really care about is keeping your own name in the press.

Sent by citizen against Nader for anything | 3:38 PM | 2-25-2008

For anyone even thinking about voting for Ralph Nader I suggest you google "Ralph Nader's Investment Portfolio" Going back as far as 2000 I think you'll find he is a hypocrite when railing against the big corporate money. He seems to be doing quite well for himself by supporting the very corporations he is railing against.

Sent by rfs | 3:43 PM | 2-25-2008

What is your opinion of the idea that you should run for a lower office (and, I assume hold that lower office) prior to running for President of the United States? [Do you think being governor of Texas prepared Bush for being US President? :) ]

Sent by Rebecca | 4:46 PM | 2-25-2008

All third party candidates got more votes in the 2000 election than the difference between between votes for Al Gore and George Bush. People who blame Nader for not dropping out are showing how dependent they are on others for their opinions: the blame of Nader was propaganda of the Democratic party. Please look at for his platform details. Consider watching the documentary on Nader (released 2006). Prior to watching this documentary, I had drawn no conclusion on Nader. I had few actual facts on which to draw. I now respect his selfless care for the American public. Whether or not you support his candidacy, bear in mind he has saved countless lives through his efforts, and speak of him with respect. I find these accusations of egoism to be errant and inconsistent with prior evidence of his character which indicates his highest priorities are the welfare of others.

Sent by Rebecca | 4:53 PM | 2-25-2008

Your search - "Ralph Nader's Investment Portfolio" - did not match any documents.

However, according to this --> <-- Wikipedia article..

"According to the mandatory fiscal disclosure report that he filed with the Federal Election Commission in 2000, he then owned more than $3 million worth of stocks and mutual fund shares; his single largest holding was more than $1 million worth of stock in Cisco Systems, Inc. He also held more than $2 million in two money market funds. Nader owns no car or real estate, and says he lives on US$25000 a year and gives most of his stock earnings to many of the over four dozen non-profit organizations he has founded."

A source for the Wikipedia article is this --> <-- NYTimes article from 2000.

Sent by Jared Burke | 5:36 PM | 2-25-2008

What is your view on the Democratic Race? That includes the issue of superdelagates, the sparring, and Hillary's last stand?

Sent by Shahab | 8:00 PM | 2-25-2008

I would love to hear/see a debate with the democratic and republican nominee with Ralph Nader included in it. Why bar him from the debates? More voices more choices. NPR did an excellent job with their previous democratic debate of including all of the candidates. NPR should consider doing it again with Ralph Nader included.

Sent by Daniel | 8:32 PM | 2-25-2008

Mr. Nader, do you really think there was no difference between Bush and Gore? It is the height of self-indulgence to spout black-and-white thinking, when lives are at stake.

I am the vice chair of the Los Angeles Commissioner over the in-home care program that affects 160,000 seniors and people with disabilities. I assure you, there was a big difference in our fates, under George Bush's presidency than there would have been under Al Gore's. Al Gore when he was vice president raised the allow the of money we were allowed to live on. It was not the difference between black and white, but it could have been the difference between food and home heating for seniors and people disabilities.

Sure, in a perfect world, I would've loved to a voted for you. But I need you to give a damn about the people who are really impacted. When your actions are thoughtless, regarding those who will live under the regime's you create my your actions.

I understand that you want to participate in the debates, and I would fight for your right to do that because you do up level the other candidates who don't have the luxury of being unfettered and promulgating a dramatic change they want too because they have to win an election so they can do the best they can to help people like the seniors and people disabilities I represent. And I don't have the luxury for you to run in this election. I barely made it through the draconian cuts of the last eight years.

You need to find some platform from which to express yourself, but isn't as deadly as the one you chose. When you ran against Al Gore and John Kerry. If anyone deserves and I told you so with you. There was a peek at big difference between George Bush and Al Gore and talk about audacity. Nobody has a quite like you Ralph. Find another way to be heard, but stop hurting poor people who can't afford your self-indulgence.

Sent by Nancy Becker Kennedy | 2:17 AM | 2-26-2008

Every single person on here who said that Ralph Nader is the reason Al Gore lost the election is missing the point. By not TRYING to run as a third party candidate and giving the American public another option, the corporations and status quo will remain. You never succeed by not trying and in order to change we have to keep fighting for what is moral and right.

Sent by Kristine | 1:30 PM | 2-26-2008