For all their differences, there's one thing that the presidents of NYU's College Democrats and College Republicans can agree on.
They both say Ralph Nader should not be running for president.
"This is a man who once said that he could see no difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush," Christopher Cruzcosa, president of NYU's College Democrats, said. "Anyone who would say that is obviously out of touch with reality and the modern political landscape."
Hampton Williams, president of NYU's College Republicans, agreed.
"In a season so fraught with 'change' and 'straight-talk,' Ralph Nader represents the politics of the past," Williams said. "It was Ross Perot that tipped the scale for Clinton in '92. It was Nader that attracted people who would have voted for Gore in Florida. The role of these third parties now appear to be less about activism and more about oppositional politics."
Nader confirmed he was running as an independent in the 2008 presidential election on NBC's "Meet the Press" last Sunday. This marks the consumer advocate's fifth consecutive White House run.
Many Democrats blame Nader for Gore's loss in 2000, arguing that he drew enough votes away from the former vice president for Bush to win Florida, and therefore the election. Nader has consistently maintained that it was the machinations of Katherine Harris, the former Florida secretary of state, and Gov. Jeb Bush that were responsible for the election's outcome.
Conventional logic holds that Nader would attract voters who would otherwise vote for the Democratic candidate. With Senators Clinton and Obama locked in a close contest for the nomination, the electability argument takes on greater relevance.
Joshua Tucker, professor of politics at NYU, sees Obama as having a leg up on this count.
"My guess is that Nader's 'anti-establishment' message is likely to pry more voters away from Clinton than Obama," Tucker said. "Obama's 'change' message and clearer anti-Iraq war stance probably resonates more with the types of Democrats who are more likely to be attracted by Nader's message."
In an interview with CNN about his presidential bid, Nader suggested that, were the Democratic Party stronger, it would not have to worry about him at all.
"The Democrats ought to look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves why they have not been able to landslide the worst Republican Party and the White House and Congress over the last 20 years," he said.
Despite his influence in 2000, pundits and voters alike are dismissing Nader as a non-factor this time around.
"I think the media has a lot to do with how people see the race, and they just focus on the two main parties. He doesn't get recognized," CAS junior Evelyn Holzeis said. "I hate to say it, but I don't think he really has a chance."
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