Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader accused Sen. Barack Obama, the presumed Democratic Party nominee, of downplaying poverty issues, trying to "talk white" and appealing to "white guilt" during his run for the White House.
Nader, a thorn in the Democratic Party’s side since the 2000 presidential election, has taken various shots at Obama in recent days while ramping up his latest independent run for president.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Rocky Mountain News on Monday, he said he is running because he believes Democrats, like Republicans, are too closely aligned with corporate interests.
Nader was asked if Obama is any different than Democrats he has criticized in the past, considering Obama’s pledge to reject campaign contributions from registered lobbyists.
"There’s only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He’s half African-American," Nader said. "Whether that will make any difference, I don’t know. I haven’t heard him 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? He doesn’t want to appear like Jesse Jackson? We’ll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards."
The Obama campaign had only a brief response, calling the remarks disappointing.
Asked to clarify whether he thought Obama does try to "talk white," Nader said: "Of course.
"I mean, first of all, the number one thing that a black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor, especially in the inner cities and the rural areas, and have a very detailed platform about how the poor is going to be defended by the law, is going to be protected by the law, and is going to be liberated by the law," Nader said. "Haven’t heard a thing."
"We are obviously disappointed with these very backward-looking remarks," Obama campaign spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said.
Plans to visit DNC:
Nader said he plans to travel to Denver during this summer’s Democratic National Convention, hoping to highlight an alternative agenda that he thinks the party should pursue. His appearance in the city is sure to anger some Democrats who believe his presence on the ballot during the contested 2000 election cost Al Gore votes, helping Republican George Bush win the disputed election.
Nader rejects that blame, saying Democrats "scapegoated" him instead of looking at other factors that contributed to the defeat.
‘Appeal to white guilt’:
Nader said he is not impressed with Obama and that he does not see him campaigning often enough in low-income, predominantly minority communities where there is a "shocking" amount of economic exploitation.
He pointed to issues like predatory lending, shortages of health care and municipal resources, environmental issues and others.
"He wants to show that he is not a threatening … another politically threatening African-American politician," Nader said. "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."
To view Ralph Nader discussing Barack Obama, go to: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/videos/detail/ralph-nader-broadsides-obama/
(Contact M.E. Sprengelmeyer of the Rocky Mountain News at sprengelmeyerm(at)shns.com)