Ralph Nader, a four-time presidential candidate, says President Obama should be poised for a landslide victory that swings control of Congress dramatically back to Democrats, but instead he's running a "selfish" campaign that has done little to help his party on Capitol Hill.
In an interview with The Washington Times, Mr. Nader, who is slated to speak at this weekend's Green Festival in the District, also predicted a major shake-up in American politics by 2016 when a billionaire political messiah will be prepared to spend his own money to force choices in the next presidential election.
The consumer-advocate-turned-politician, who has run for president as the Green Party's nominee and as an independent, called Republicans in Washington "cruel and ignorant." But he saved his most biting barbs for Mr. Obama, who he said all but ignored fellow Democratic candidates at his nominating convention earlier this month.
"It's the most politically selfish speech I've ever heard a candidate make in that he never mentioned congressional Democrats," Mr. Nader said. "And it's not just rhetoric. He doesn't campaign with them."
Mr. Obama was both the first major-party nominee and the first incumbent president to reject the public financing system for the general election, which drew more scorn from Mr. Nader, who has long been an advocate of the system.
In rejecting taxpayer money, Mr. Obama has had to spend much of his time in recent months chasing dollars from donors. Still, Democrats campaign officials say they don't feel neglected by Mr. Obama.
"The strength of President Obama's campaign has helped boost House campaigns with a top-notch get-out-the-vote effort," said Jesse Ferguson, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Given how bad a drag Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have become, though, it's our hope they start campaigning more with House Republicans."
Mr. Nader will be at the District's Green Festival, which bills itself as the nation's largest sustainable economy event, Saturday to talk about his book, "The Seventeen Solutions," which is being released next week.
One of his recommendations in the book is for the country to try to enlist the superrich to help in the fight for social causes and against the two-party political system Mr. Nader himself has battled.
"There are a lot of them, fortunately. A lot of them are getting ready," he said, naming Bill Gates as one man he said he wouldn't be surprised to see involved.
He said he doesn't know anything in particular about Mr. Gates' plans, but said he imagines the Microsoft founder might be looking at his philanthropic endeavors and wondering whether there's a more direct way to get things done.
"He doesn't have to dial for one dollar, everybody in the country knows him, so I think 2016 is going to be the beginning of the end of the two-party duopoly," Mr. Nader said.
As for his own political situation, Mr. Nader said he has no regrets about not running this year — the first time since 1992 that he hasn't entered the race. He said running turned out to be futile because he was never able to crack the one national stage to which voters pay attention: the presidential debates.
That drove him to his conclusion: "There's no way you can reach tens of millions of people if you're not a billionaire."
He said he recognizes the strangeness of a consumer advocate who has battled big corporations turning to some of the men who got rich by running those outfits.
"It's more than odd, it's bizarre. It's bizarre," he said, but added the two parties have left little choice. "You see, they've gamed the obstacles to popular political revolutions so brilliantly."
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