UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think that Ralph Nader was a spoiler in 2000? What do you think about news reports that he may embark on a third presidential bid?
[BARACK] OBAMA: I think anybody has the right to run for president if they file sufficient papers. And I think the job of the democratic party is to be so compelling that a few percentage of the vote going to another candidate is not going to make any difference.
OBAMA: He had called me and I think reached out to my campaign — my sense is that Mr. Nader is somebody who, if you don’t listen and adopt all of his policies, thinks you’re not substantive. He seems to have a pretty high opinion of his own work. And by the way, I have to say that historically he is a singular figure in American politics and has done as much as just about anybody on behalf of consumers. So, in many ways he is a heroic figure and I don’t mean to diminish him. But I do think there is a sense now that if somebody is not [hewing] to the Ralph Nader agenda, then you must be lacking in some way.
From NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” (at 9:11):
CALLER: Has Mr. Raider…
NEAL CONAN, HOST: Nader. Nader’s Raiders, but he is Mr. Nader.
CALLER: …has he really reached out to either of the candidates or any…any of the candidates: McCain, Barack, or Hilary to look at a different approach than one that positions him as the spoiler? And has he tried some other alternatives that would further the dialog about these issues, rather than being the spoiler? Finally the last question is does he look back at the last two times when he was seen as — and it’s certainly debatable — as the spoiler and look to some successes he has had? That’s all, I’ll take my answer off the line.
CONAN: Thank you, John.
RALPH NADER: First of all, I object to the word “spoiler.” I know he doesn’t mean it that way but it’s a politically bigoted word because you to the two major parties and their candidates who spoiled our electoral process, spoiled our government, and turned it over to big business. As I call Washington DC, occupied — business-occupied — corporate-occupied territory.
Either we have an equal right to run for election, Nealm or we don’t. And if we have an equal right to run for election, then none of us are spoilers or all of us are spoilers trying to take votes competitively away from one another. In 2000, I reached out. I had all our, my proposals, we sent them to the Democrat and Republican nominees, to the parties, put it on the website: they never responded. In 2004, even more strenuously, I did a “Agenda for the Common Good.” It was clear writing, ir related to peoples’ necessities, all the solutions that we’re putting on the shelf, that we’re not applying because of the democracy gap. And I gave it to George Bush and his assistant said he received it. I gave it to John Kerry and John Kerry said he read it. I gave it to Terry Macauliffe — the head of the Democratic National Committee — he said he read it on the way to Pennsy- — to Philadelphia on the plane. I met with John Kerry in May, in his office. We talked about a whole number of issues: labor law reform, cracking down on corporate crime, and a living wage, and uh, he refused to, uh, accept my extended hand of collaborating on these issues that we both supposedly agreed on, and drawing a bright line with George W. Bush.
So, to answer his question, there’s nobody who’s reached out more. And I will do it. I’ve been trying for six months to get an appointment with Barack Obama. And it started in April of last year and ended in the early fall when I called him finally, his office, and he said he had no time the entire fall. So this is the kind of hubris, I think, that the two-parties have, they think they own the voters, and I think the voters, once they think about it a bit, need to resent that attitude.