Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader had some scathing, racially-tinged words for Barack Obama in an interview with the Rocky Mountain News.
Nader said that Obama is trying to "talk white" and appeal to "white guilt," while downplaying poverty issues.
"There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American," Nader told the newspaper. "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."
Asked by the reporter whether he thought Obama does try to "talk white," Nader responded, "Of course."
"I mean, first of all, the number one thing that a black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor, especially in the inner cities and the rural areas, and have a very detailed platform about how the poor is going to be defended by the law, is going to be protected by the law, and is going to be liberated by the law," Nader said. "Haven't heard a thing."
Update: Sen. Obama responded to Nader's comments at a press conference in Chicago:
"You know, look, uh first of all, what's clear is that Ralph Nader hasn't been paying attention to my speeches because all the issues that he talked about, whether it's predatory lending or the housing foreclosure crisis or what have you are issues that the traveling press can tell you I've devoted multiple speeches, town hall meetings to throughout this campaign," Obama said. "Ralph Nader's trying to get attention. He's become a perennial political candidate. I think it's a shame, because if you look at his legacy in terms of consumer protections, it's an extraordinary one, but at this point he's somebody who's trying to get attention and whose campaign hasn't gotten any traction and so what better way to get some traction than to make an inflammatory statement like the one that he made. It is what it is."