Ralph Nader enters US presidential race as independent

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ralph Nader speaking against the Iraq War in 2007.

Political activist Ralph Nader has announced the launch of an independent campaign for President of the United States. Nader, who also ran for president in the previous three elections, made the announcement on NBC's television program Meet the Press.

"Dissent is the mother of ascent, and in that context I have decided to run for president," said Nader.

"In the last few years, big money and the closing down of Washington against citizen groups prevent us from trying to improve our country. And I want everybody to have the right and opportunity to improve their country."

In 2000, Nader ran for President as a Green Party candidate and received 2.7% of the popular vote. Many Democrats believe his campaign led to the election of Republican George W. Bush by taking away potential votes for Democrat Al Gore, especially in the state of Florida. Nader also ran in 2004 as an independent, but only garnered 0.4% of the vote.

At a press conference yesterday, Democratic candidate Barack Obama doubted that a potential Nader candidacy would have the same impact as in 2000. "I think the job of the Democratic Party is to be so compelling that a few percentage of the vote going to another candidate's not going to make any difference," he said.

Today, however, Obama was more disapproving of Nader. "He 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 told reporters.

Democrat Hillary Clinton seemed more concerned about Nader's bid. "Obviously it’s not helpful to whoever our Democratic nominee is," she said. "I remember when he did this before, it didn't turn out too well for anyone, especially our country." She said Nader "prevented Al Gore from being the 'greenest' president we could have had", and she hoped his bid will be "just a passing fancy that people won't take too seriously."

Nader dismissed criticism of his entry into the race, saying, "For anybody who thinks that the third try is something that should be demeaned, it represents persistence, it represents never giving up the struggle for justice."

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Mike Huckabee welcomed Nader into the race, in the hopes that he will lessen the Democratic voter base. "I think it would always pull votes away from the Democrats, not the Republicans," he said. "So actually, Republicans would welcome his entry into the race and hope that a few more will join in."