Posted: February 25, 2008 5:10 PM
Nader's New Bid Conjures Tales of Elections Past
Consumer activist and independent Ralph Nader announced his fifth bid for the presidency Sunday, putting Democrats on the defensive as they continue to battle for party’s nomination.
Nader won only 2.74 percent of the popular vote when he ran as the Green Party candidate in the 2000 general election — but is blamed by many Democrats for taking votes away from Vice President Al Gore in Florida in 2000, helping Republican George W. Bush win the presidency.
Sunday, he again defended his entry and denied allegations that his main intention is to derail the White House hopes of the next Democratic nominee.
Officially announcing his candidacy on MSNBC’s Meet the Press, Nader told moderator Tim Russert that there are several explanations for why Gore was unable to secure the 2000 presidency, including his failure to appeal to Arkansas voters and “all kinds of thievery in Florida.”
“I’m amazed at the liberal intelligencia here,” he said. “They are analytic and they deal with all kinds of variables, but when it comes to 2000 election, it’s just one variable.”
Looking ahead to 2008, Nader expressed dissatisfaction with the current front-runners — Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democrats and Arizona Sen. John McCain on the GOP side — as his motivation for entering the race yet again.
“People don’t like Pentagon waste, a bloated military budget … A wasteful defense is a weak defense. It takes away taxpayer money that can go to the necessities of the American people. That’s off the table to Obama and Clinton and McCain,” he said.
Clinton called Nader’s entry into the race “unfortunate,” and expressed concern over his participation’s effect on the election outcome.
“I remember when he ran before,” she said, according to CNN. “It didn’t turn out very well for anybody — especially our country.” Clinton added that Nader “prevented Al Gore from being the ‘greenest’ president we could have had.”
Obama downplayed its impact, saying the 2008 race is very different than the 2000 contest.
“[Nader] thought that there was no difference between Al Gore and George Bush and, eight years later, I think people realize that Ralph did not know what he was talking about,” Obama said at a town hall meeting, according to CNN.
Republican contender Mike Huckabee, who remains in the race despite a substantial lead by McCain, told CNN he feels Nader’s entry “would probably pull votes away from the Democrats and not the Republicans, so naturally, Republicans would welcome his entry into the race.”
While candidates are weighing the potential impact of Nader’s run, some political analysts feel that Nader’s inclusion will have equivalent or less impact than it did in 2004.
“All of the factors that contributed to Nader’s dismal finish in 2004 are many times more potent this cycle,” said The Huffington Post’s Marc Cooper. “His candidacy will force nothing, except the voters to view Nader as some sort of bizarre spectacle. The competing candidates will see him as little more than a nuisance.”