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Ralph Nader 2008 presidential campaign

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ralph Nader for President 2008
Nader Gonzalez 08 Logo.svg
CampaignU.S. presidential election, 2008
CandidateRalph Nader
Founder of Public Citizen and
progressive activist
Affiliationindependent candidate
StatusLost election November 4, 2008
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
Key peopleMatt Gonzalez
(Running mate)
SloganPeople fighting back.

The 2008 presidential campaign of Ralph Nader, political activist, author, lecturer and attorney began on February 24, 2008. He announced his intent to run as an independent candidate, on NBC's Meet The Press.[1][2] It was Nader's fifth campaign; he ran in the four election cycles prior to 2008: 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004. The 2008 election was the third in which he had officially run a national campaign. While Nader ran as an independent, in some states he had ballot access with the Independent-Ecology Party, the Natural Law Party, and the Peace and Freedom Party.[3][4] Nader received 738,475 votes.[5]


California Presidential primary, Green Party ballot, February 5, 2008, listing "Ralph Nader"
California Presidential primary, Green Party ballot, February 5, 2008, listing "Ralph Nader"

In February 2007, Nader criticized Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as "a panderer and a flatterer". Asked on CNN Late Edition news program if he would run in 2008, Nader replied, "It's really too early to say...."[6] Asked during a radio appearance to describe the former First Lady, Nader said, "Flatters, panders, coasting, front-runner, looking for a coronation ... She has no political fortitude."[7] Some Greens started a campaign to draft Nader as their party's 2008 presidential candidate.[8] In June 2007, Nader said, "You know the two parties are still converging -- they don't even debate the military budget anymore. I really think there needs to be more competition from outside the two parties."[9] Nader praised Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and John Edwards during the race for the Democratic nomination.

Nader hinted more towards his own presidential bid by participating in the Green Party Presidential Debates in San Francisco on January 13, 2008, though not as an announced candidate. He formed a presidential exploratory committee on January 30, 2008, telling CNN he would run again if he could raise the necessary funds.[10]

Before entering the race, Nader was asked by Wolf Blitzer on CNN's The Situation Room if he liked any of the Democratic presidential candidates in 2008. Nader answered "in terms of his record, Dennis Kucinich and in terms of a great Democratic strengthened Democracy proposal, Mike Gravel".[11] A petition was started to urge Nader to run with Mike Gravel as a vice presidential candidate.[12] In the weeks before the Iowa caucus, Nader praised former Senator John Edwards and his populist message, calling him "a Democratic glimmer of hope" and encouraging Iowans to "give him a victory".[13]


In a Zogby International poll released March 15, 2008, Nader received 6 percent of the vote in a John McCain-Clinton-Nader race and 5 percent in a McCain-Obama-Nader race. According to pollster John Zogby, a self-described Democrat, "Nader's presence in the race can potentially turn a lulu of a race into an absolute tizzy. The messages to Democrats are clear – number one, Nader may win enough support to get into the general election debates. Number two, what could be at risk is support among several key constituencies that the Democratic Party candidate will need to win in November, notably younger voters, independents, and progressives."[14] However, according to pollster Mark Blumenthal, such an effect is overstated.[15]

Campaign developments

Nader condemning the Iraq War in 2007
Nader condemning the Iraq War in 2007

After announcing his run on Meet the Press Nader said he had chosen former San Francisco Board of Supervisors president and Texas native Matt Gonzalez as his running mate on February 28, 2008.[16] Gonzalez was a supporter of Nader in 2000 and 2004, and had a background as a public defender and civil rights attorney. He narrowly lost the San Francisco mayoral election to Democrat Gavin Newsom in 2003.[17]

While campaigning at his alma mater Princeton University, Nader gave a lecture titled "The Corporate State and the Destruction of Democracy." He discussed the "political bigotry against third parties" and the lack of limitations on the power of corporations. Nader described his plans for reform, including single-payer national health insurance, cuts to the military budget, crackdowns on corporations, and a repeal of the 1947 Taft–Hartley Act.[18]

On March 9, Nader visited West Chester, Pennsylvania where he talked with the Chester County Historical Society about protection of the "victims" of "corporate crooks." He stated that taxes should be levied first on polluters, gamblers and corporations, and that taxes should be lowered on labor and necessities. He called for a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq criticizing the current presidential candidate's stance on the war, "Children not even born yet today will be in Iraq under these [current] candidates...We will bring our troops home".[19]

Nader campaigning in October, 2008
Nader campaigning in October, 2008

In April 2008, Nader praised Jimmy Carter's plan to visit the Middle East, saying: "It is time for all retired military, diplomatic and national security officials from both parties who agree with Carter — and there are many — to band together and launch the Washington Peace Show leading to what a majority of Palestinians and Israelis want — a viable two-state solution."[20]

Nader was selected as the presidential candidate by the Peace and Freedom Party at its convention on August 2. He received 46 delegate votes (60.7 percent) defeating Gloria La Riva, Brian Moore and Cynthia McKinney. The distinction gave Nader instant ballot access in California.[21][22]

In June, Nader accused Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama of trying to "talk white" and appealing to white guilt in the election campaign. Obama said about Nader's criticism, "He's become a perennial political candidate. At this point, he's somebody who's trying to get attention, whose campaign hasn't gotten any traction."[23]

On September 10, 2008, Nader appeared with Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul as well as several other third party candidates for a press conference at the National Press Club to present the four key principles that they all agreed were the most important of the election. Later that day, Nader and Paul appeared on CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer to briefly lay out these principles.[24]

On November 4, 2008, Ralph Nader issued an open letter to Barack Obama, wherein he stated, "Far more than Senator McCain, you have received enormous, unprecedented contributions from corporate interests, Wall Street interests and, most interestingly, big corporate law firm attorneys."[25]


On Election night, Nader received 738,475 votes for 0.56 percent of the popular vote in the 2008 United States presidential election, finishing in 3rd place.[26]

Controversial statements

Nader speaks to a reporter after giving a talk at UC San Diego one week before the general election
Nader speaks to a reporter after giving a talk at UC San Diego one week before the general election

Nader came under fire during and after the campaign for some comments made regarding the candidacy of Barack Obama. In June 2008, Nader commented in an interview with the Rocky Mountain News that he hasn't heard Obama "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?" Nader then implies Obama's strategy would be:

He wants to show that he is not (...) another politically threatening African-American politician. He wants to appeal to white guilt. You appeal to white guilt not by coming on as black is beautiful, black is powerful. Basically he’s coming on as someone who is not going to threaten the white power structure, whether it’s corporate or whether it’s simply oligarchic. And they love it. Whites just eat it up.

Obama campaign spokeswoman Shannon Gilson responded, "We are obviously disappointed with these very backward-looking remarks."[27][28] On election night, as results were coming in and it was becoming clear that Obama has won the presidency, Nader said about Barack Obama in a live TV interview with Fox News anchor Shepard Smith:

To put it very simply, he is our first African-American president, or he will be. And we wish him well. But his choice, basically, is whether he is going to be Uncle Sam for this country or Uncle Tom for the giant corporations.[29][30]

Grassroots efforts

The Nader 2008 campaign relied heavily on grassroots organizing. The "Roadtrip for Ralph" effort sent Nader supporters to states to get Nader on the ballot.[31]

Ballot access

Ballot access for the campaign, red indicates access while orange indicates write-in access.
Ballot access for the campaign, red indicates access while orange indicates write-in access.

By September 18, 2008, Nader and Gonzalez were on the ballot in 45 states; in four of the five remaining states, with write-in status. Oklahoma did not allow write-in candidates.[32] For ballot access in most states, the Nader campaign had to circulate nominating petitions, with varying numbers of signatures and deadlines, to get on the ballot. In some states, the requirements for ballot access are lower for new parties than for independents, so Nader attempted to qualify as the candidate of the Independent Party (composed of Nader supporters). Nader qualified for the 2008 New Mexico ballot using the new party procedure, rather than qualifying as an independent, because the number of signatures for a new party is only one-sixth as many signatures.[33] The campaign also turned in petitions in Hawaii, which requires 663 signatures. The Independent Party turned in approximately 2,100.[34]


See also


  1. ^ "'Meet the Press' transcript for Feb. 24, 2008: Ralph Nader, David Brooks, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Michele Norris, Chuck Todd". NBC News' Meet the Press. National Broadcasting Company. February 24, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-24.
  2. ^ "Ralph Nader enters presidential race". CNN. 2008-02-24.
  3. ^ "Presidency 2008". Retrieved 2008-08-29.
  4. ^ "Nader, Gonzalez Win Peace and Freedom Party Nod". 2008-08-03. Retrieved 2009-08-22.[dead link]
  5. ^ "2008 official presidential general election results" (PDF). FEC. 2008-11-04. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
  6. ^ Nader Leaves '08 Door Open, Slams Hillary Archived 2012-07-12 at Reuters, February 5, 2007.
  7. ^ Ralph Nader: Hillary's Just a 'Bad Version of Bill Clinton' Feb. 16, 2007
  8. ^ "". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  9. ^ "Nader ponders run, calls Clinton 'coward'". 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  10. ^ Mooney, Alexander (2008-01-30). "Nader takes steps towards another White House bid". CNN Political Ticker. Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
  11. ^ "Ralph Nader on "The Situation Room", names Gravel, Kucinich". YouTube. 2007-11-02.
  12. ^ "Nader/Gravel 2008 Petition". PetitionOnline. PetionOnline. 2008-02-25. Archived from the original on 2012-12-09.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  13. ^ David Paul Kuhn (2007-12-31). "Nader throws support to Edwards". Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  14. ^ Zogby International
  15. ^ "Measuring Nader And Barr". National Journal. 2008-07-10. Archived from the original on October 19, 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  16. ^ "Nader picks running mate". CNN. CNN. 2008-02-28.
  17. ^ Alexovich, Ariel (2008-02-28). "Nader Announces Pick for Vice President". New York Times. New York Times.
  18. ^ Shamma, Tasnim (2008-03-10). "Nader '55 calls for more civic activism". The Daily Princetonian. Princeton University.
  19. ^ Lynch, Danielle (2008-03-09). "Nader visits Chester County". Daily Local. Daily Local. Archived from the original on 2008-03-17.
  20. ^ Nader, Ralph (2008-04-10). "Jimmy Carter – Ralph Nader for President in 2008". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  21. ^ Saturn, William (2008-08-08). "Nader chosen as the presidential nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party". Wikinews. Wikimedia Foundation.
  22. ^ Winger, Richard (2008-08-02). "Nader Wins Peace & Freedom Party Nomination". Ballot Access News. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  23. ^ Mooney, Alexander (June 26, 2008) "Obama using 'white guilt,' Nader says."
  24. ^ The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, CNN, September 10, 2008
  25. ^ "Open Letter to Sen. Obama". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  26. ^ "United States House of Representatives floor summary for Jan 8, 2009". Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2009.
  27. ^ "Nader: Obama trying to 'talk white'". The Rocky Mountain News. 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  28. ^ Bosman, Julie (2008-06-25). "Nader Defends Remarks About Obama – The Caucus Blog –". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  29. ^ Herman, Jan (November 7, 2008) "Bob's Your Uncle." The Huffington Post.
  30. ^ "Ralph Nader calls Obama "Uncle Tom"? : Information Clearing House - ICH". 2008-11-07. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  31. ^ Saby, Adam (2008-03-26). "New Mexico Roadtrip Update – Ralph Nader for President in 2008". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  32. ^ Nader Officially on 45 State Ballots + DC, press release, September 18, 2008 [1]
  33. ^ (2008-04-25) Nader's Independent Party is on New Mexico Ballot, Ballot Access News.
  34. ^ (2008-04-03)Green Party and Independent Party submit Hawaii petitions, Ballot Access News.
  35. ^ "Zinn Will Vote for Nader! « Dandelion Salad". Retrieved 2009-08-22.[unreliable source?]
  36. ^ (2008-07-30) Chris Hedges:I'm voting Nader,
  37. ^ Lithgow, Michael (2008-07-30) Awake from your slumber: Patti Smith & Ralph Nader music video,
  38. ^ "Q & A with Ben Stein 280479-1 : C-SPAN Video Library | Created by Cable. Offered as a Public Service". Archived from the original on 2008-11-22. Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  39. ^ "Rocky Anderson to introduce Ralph Nader at Utah campaign stop". 2008-07-25. Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  40. ^ "Jesse Ventura Voted For Ralph Nader in 2008". YouTube. 2011-03-03. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  41. ^ a b c Sheehan, Mike, Scholars and Rogues, August 28, 2008
  42. ^ "Q & A with Ben Stein on C-SPAN, recorded (2008-07-18)". Archived from the original on 2008-11-22. Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  43. ^ Sean Penn, Val Kilmer, Tom Morello and Cindy Sheehan at Nader/Gonzalez Super Rally in Denver,, August 19, 2008 [2]
  44. ^ donations[dead link]
  45. ^ Political Notebook by Daniel Scarpinato. "Political Notebook by Daniel Scarpinato : Sorely out of touch on critical TV program". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  46. ^ "Russell Means Freedom". Russell Means Freedom. Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  47. ^ McCaslin, John (August 21, 2008). "Inside the Beltway". Washington Post. Retrieved October 25, 2008.
  48. ^ Kauffman, Bil (October 29, 2008). "Inside the Beltway". Washington Post. Retrieved June 1, 2014.

External links

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