February 24, 2008

Nader An Oh-Eighter

Barack Obama can now point to someone running to his left as evidence of his moderateness. Ralph Nader has announced that he will run for President in 2008, giving Democrats another potential headache in the fall, albeit a small one:

Ralph Nader has announced plans to run again for the US presidency. The anti-establishment consumer advocate made the announcement in a televised interview on Sunday. ....

"I'm running for president," Mr Nader said as he announced the move on NBC's Meet the Press.

He said most Americans were disenchanted with the Democratic and Republican parties - who were not discussing the urgent issues facing American voters

Democrats, he said, were "complicit" and if they did not win by a "landslide" this year, "they should just close down".

Nader managed to make the 2000 race a lot more interesting than anyone predicted. Although he only captured 3 million votes nationwide, he took more than the gap between George Bush and Al Gore in Florida -- ensuring Gore's defeat. In 2004, however, Nader didn't account for any change in the results as Bush beat John Kerry in his successful re-election bid.

How much impact will Nader have this time? Probably none at all. Unless Hillary Clinton pulls off a miracle, the Naderites of 2000 have aligned themselves enthusiastically with Barack Obama. Having Nader attack him from the Left won't hurt Obama's prospects in the middle, where he needs to draw more heavily than John McCain.

The bigger worry for Obama is Michael Bloomberg. The billionaire mayor of New York City ay still launch a vanity run for the White House, and he would challenge both McCain and Obama for the center. However, given Bloomberg's nanny-state tendencies, he will likely draw far more support from Obama than from McCain. If both Nader and Bloomberg enter the race, Obama could get squeezed from both sides.

If nothing else, Nader's presence will provide a few laughs as he gets reviled for blocking Obama's path to victory, even if it's just a small roadbump.

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