President Bush was just demanding action on his proposed $700 billion financial sector bailout when Independent presidential candidate and corporate watchdog Ralph Nader spoke with New Times in advance of his coming campaign trip to San Luis Obispo.
Nader, who many believe played a spoiler role in the 2000 election of Bush, will again be on the ballot in most states, including California. He reports that he’s polling as high as 7 or 8 percent in some states.
Nader and running mate Matt Gonzalez will be speaking at Cal Poly’s Alex and Faye Spanos Theater on Sunday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m.
In this discussion, Nader talks about what he stands for, how he hopes to be remembered, and whether he knows any good jokes about lipstick.
Q: What do you think about the news of the financial industry bailout?
A: Well the news is it could have been prevented if the Democrats and Republicans didn’t deregulate the financial industry back in 1999 with that legislation that President Clinton got through Congress. We predicted it and it did happen.
Q: Do you think the bailout is necessary at this point?
A: Well by definition it is necessary, but it doesn’t have to be this way. I think any bailout by the U.S. government should have taxpayer participation so if the company is revived the taxpayer can be made whole or actually have a surplus. That’s what they did with in the late ’70s when the Carter Administration bailed out Chrysler, they had stock warrants issued in the name of the U.S. Treasury and when Chrysler turned around and made a profit, the warrants were sold and the taxpayer got a $400 billion profit.
In other words: No public hearings, no bailout. No taxpayer ownership participation, no bailouts. Golden Parachute for the top dogs, no bailout.
Q: The first debate is coming up.
A: Yeah, the first so-called debate.
Q: You’re not going to be in it. What do you think of that decision?
A: I think it flouts the will of the people. Because in poll after poll after poll the majority of the American people want me on those debates. Regardless of whether they’re going to vote or not, they want more on the stage. They don’t want the debates to be viewed as an antidote to insomnia.
Q: When he wasn’t allowed in one of the debates, Dennis Kucinich responded with a YouTube response to each debate question. Will you do something along those lines?
A: We may do one on the third debate. That’s Oct. 13 ; But you know there were copyright problems. It was contemplated that we’d have the debate where it’s like I’m in the debate at the same time, that we’d have the debate virtually. And there were copyright problems. Because the networks own it.
Q: Your web site says you’ve reached 6 percent in one of the national polls.
A: Yeah, we’re at 7, 8 percent in some states. There’s a recent CNN poll that has 7 percent Pennsylvania, 8 percent New Mexico, 7 percent in Nebraska. A more recent one had me 4 percent in Florida. It’s just all over the place in Ohio. What’s interesting is that, when I’m in the poll, McCain goes down. Not Obama.
Q: What do you attribute that to?
A: I have no idea.
Q: Would you mind finishing this statement? I’ll stop running for president when ;
A: When our country’s characterized by the last few words of the Pledge of Allegiance: “with liberty and justice for all.”
Q: Boy, that doesn’t sound like any time soon, Mr. Nader.
A: (Laughs) You didn’t ask me to appraise that one, you just asked me to reply.
Q: One last question. How do you think you’ll be remembered by history?
A: Well I hope to be remembered as a champion of the people and a builder of democracy.
Q: I didn’t hear the word president in there.
A: No a, president can be both.
Q: Do you know any lipstick jokes?
A: No, but I did interview a parrot on my website. You can watch it at www.votenader.org ; I figured we’d share some common concerns.