Opinion: Edwards and Nader: One out, one in?


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John Edwards is apparently calling it quits. And it looks like Ralph Nader -- ‘Darth Nader’ to Democrats who can’t forget the 2000 showdown -- is thinking about joining the campaign circus. Again.

First, Edwards. If he does follow through with the reported planned announcement in New Orleans later today, the timing is curious. Edwards’ 2008 campaign never really caught on, in large part because he couldn’t get enough air to breath in a room in which Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama sucked up nearly all the oxygen. And he was further confounded by Obama’s policies, which occupied much of the same populist ground that Edwards was standing on.


But why drop out now? Edwards’ last loss was Saturday in South Carolina. His showing in Florida on Tuesday was irrelevant. And with Feb. 5 just around the corner, he might have been able to grab enough delegates to act as a drag on both of the other candidates.

Unless the one-time trial lawyer is planning to throw his lot in with Obama in an effort to stop Clinton’s march to the nomination. Or, conversely -- and harder to imagine -- join up with Clinton to seal it for the New York senator.

As for Nader, the legendary consumer advocate ...

(Photo credit: Edward Gombert/EPA)

has never been subtle about his disdain for the two major parties, seeing them as relatively inseparable and equally in thrall to the corporate interests that Nader has been fighting since the 1960s (which, coincidentally, was the driving theme of Edwards’ campaign).

It’s hard to see a Nader campaign having much effect if Obama wins the Democratic nomination. Given the progressives’ uncertainty over Clinton and her centrist policies, Nader might have a little more influence if she is the nominee, though lingering anger over the 2000 election made his campaign an irrelevancy in 2004.

But if Nader jumps in and Michael Bloomberg jumps in, we could find ourselves reliving history. Say, 1912, when Teddy Roosevelt ran on the Bull Moose ticket and derailed the reelection hopes of fellow Republican William Howard Taft who lost to Democrat Woodrow Wilson, with Socialist Eugene V. Debs bleeding off votes on the left.

Ooh, flashbacks. That’s so 1960s.

-- Scott Martelle

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