In an interview Monday, June 23rd, from his campaign headquarters in D.C., Nader trumped Geraldine Ferraro, as he drew the race card in discussing the difference between Obama and his democratic predecessors:
There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American. 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.
Speaking further on black politicians, on scary black politicians, on politically threatening scary black politicians like Jessie Jackson, and on how scary threatening black politicians connive to get the white-guilt vote by being black, but acting white, Nader continued his discussion of Obama's half-blackness.
He wants to show that he is not a threatening, a politically threatening, 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.
Statements from the Obama campaign were brief, by comparison. "We are obviously disappointed with these very backward-looking remarks," said Obama campaign spokeswoman, Shannon Gilson, while the Obama campaign's communication director, Robert Gibbs, called Nader's statements, "reprehensible and basically delusional."
See a video of the full interview, plus a partial transcript here: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/jun/25/partial-transcript-ralph-naders-comments/
UPDDATE: Wednesday, June 25. Two days after his remarks, and in the wake of public outrage over his earlier statements, Nader's campaign issued a statement that Nader would not retract his comments or issue an apology.
Senator Obama, responding Wednesday afternoon to Nader's charges that Obama is neglecting poverty and inner city issues. "What's clear is, Ralph Nader hasn't been paying attention to my speeches," he said. "Ralph Nader's trying to get attention. He's become a perennial political candidate."
Speaking like a man whose gifts for diplomacy and grace-under-fire transcend superficial differences, such as race, Obama added, "I think it's a shame, because if you look at his legacy in terms of consumer protections, it's an extraordinary one."