Consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader says he sees "far too little difference" between President Obama and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, arguing that "we deserve more choices in this country."
In the interview with Hotsheet on Monday, Nader said the president and his likely Republican challenger are essentially the same when it comes to foreign policy and their attitudes "toward Wall Street and corporate power." The primary difference, he said, is their position on social services.
"I think Obama is more protective of Social Security and Medicare than Mitt Romney would be," said Nader. (Watch the ten-minute interview at left.)
During his presidential campaigns - including a 2000 run that some say was responsible for George W. Bush's defeat of Al Gore - Nader largely maintained that there was essentially no difference between the major party nominees, a position that angered some of his sympathizers.
Nader recently announced he is backing progressive former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson for president, saying Anderson represents an alternative to the "increasingly corporate indentured Democrat and Republican parties." Nader lauded Anderson's support for a $10 national minimum wage and his opposition to corporate crime and "wars of aggression."
Anderson is virtually unknown nationally, and Nader said the candidate would have to "beg the mass media for some attention." He said he hoped Anderson could get into presidential debates and on Sunday morning talk shows, arguing that "the tediousness and repetition of these politicians ought to provoke the mainstream reporters and editors into a little more excitement."
Nader ran as a Green Party candidate in 1996 and 2000 and as an independent candidate in 2004 and 2008. "I've done it enough times," he said when asked why he wasn't running again.
Nader spoke highly of the "Occupy" movement for putting issues of inequality "on the national agenda" and urged the movement to rally around the push for a $10 minimum wage. He also called for full public financing of elections, saying citizens should be able to check off boxes on their tax forms to donate up to $300 to the electoral system if they choose to do so.
Candidates, he said, should also get free television and radio networks from broadcasters, which he said should "give up some free time for the benefit of our democracy and a cleaner electoral system."
Nader argued that his positions on issues like universal health care, cutting the military budget and clearer consumer contracts are in line with those of the American people. "If you polled them and you took my position and compared it with the Democrat and Republican nominees, I think I would be president. The polls really do support it," he said.
"There's a sense of elementary fairness that transcends the various labels that people put on themselves politically," Nader argued, pointing to a desire for safe medicines and automobiles and clean air and water. "And that's what we're appealing to. But the mass media doesn't cover what we do very much anymore. When it did, years ago, a lot of good things happened in this country."
Added Nader: "The corporate advertisers and the corporatization of the mass media simply doesn't allow a lot of citizen groups to have the effective voice that their experience and record of accuracy for this country have entitled them to have."
The 78-year-old Nader, author of the book "Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism," told CBS News he is not considering retiring, saying "there's a lot more work to do."
"I believe in this old adage...the only real aging is the erosion of one's ideals," he said. "So you can be old at your age if you don't have ideals. And people can be at a much larger age and become very, very vigorous year after year."