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As Sanders and Trump win big, Nader tells Bloomberg: Don't wait too long before you jump!

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

February 9, 2016 | 6 min read

Consumer activist Ralph Nader, who himself has run five times for President, had some advice yesterday for Michael Bloomberg ,the former New York mayor said to be contemplating a third-party run.

Nader: Five times a candidate himself

Nader: Five times a candidate himself

As Trump and Sanders scored big wins in the New Hampshire primary, Nader warned Bloomberg not to wait too long before announcing he was in the race.

With 36 per cent of the vote counted, Trump had 34% of the Republican vote, compared with Kasich at 16% and Cruz at 12%; on the Democratic side, Sanders had 59% to Clinton's 38%.

Writing in the Boston Globe, Nader said a Bloomberg candidacy would instantly produce a three-way race.

“Rich candidates get instant mass-media coverage and polls, creating widespread name recognition in only a matter of days.”

Nader said “the restless, ambitious, supremely self-confident former three-term mayor of the nation’s largest city had been more than just thinking about becoming president for a decade.

“He’s done the surveys and solicited the advice of historians and political analysts about his chances. He’ll only run if he thinks he can win.”

He has told associates that he would run if the likely Republican and Democratic nominees are either too extreme (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Bernie Sanders, in his mind) or faltering (Hillary Clinton).

But, said Nader, the time for decision is rapidly nearing for meeting different state deadlines for ballot access. Bloomberg is reportedly ready to spend a billion dollars on his campaign, and can get the necessary petition signatures in record time .

“But as I learned when I ran for president, some state officials can use tricky or vague language to trip up candidates who have more than the required signatures,” said Nader. Taking them to court eats up valuable time.

“How about the electoral college? Perot didn’t get one electoral vote from this embarrassing vestige of yesterday, which allows candidates who win the popular vote to still lose in the national election. However, the electoral college could work in Bloomberg’s favor if he could excite the voters.

Therein lies the rub , says Nader. “What excitement could come out of his announcement day? He’ll emphasize his ability to get things done — starting with founding the giant Bloomberg News Company on a shoestring investment 35 years ago.

“He’ll recount his mayoral achievements and the absence of any personal scandals in the snakepit known as New York City politics. But his Wall Street boosterism may not go down well with many potentially defecting voters.

“He’ll reassure independent and partisan voters that he is the heavyweight in the race who can fix broken politics in Washington. After all, he has been a registered Democrat and Republican, and is presently an independent — the ultimate hybrid candidate who knows how to bring people together, as he often did in fractious New York City.”

His biggest procedural problem is time. The outcomes of the Republican and Democratic party race may not be known until well beyond March, as many had expected.

Then came a negative note from Nader:

“It is difficult to perceive what bundle of goals, what exciting horizons, can emanate from a noncharismatic personality who projects a dutiful managerial image but is not about to start shifting power and freedom from the few to the many.”

On the plus side, “Were Bloomberg to run, regardless of his prospects of winning, he would help break up the two-party tyranny that believes it owns all the voters in this country. He would convey that a competitive election should mean more choices of candidates and agendas.

“The rigged presidential debates, especially if he were included as Ross Perot was in 1996, would receive much needed public scrutiny.”

But, says Nader, such contributions by themselves won’t move Michael Bloomberg. To run, he has to believe he’s going to prevail.

And he concludes, “My guess is that his poll-driven answer to this recurring interest in the White House will be once again to stay put as a full-time, bold advocacy philanthropist and official adviser to favored institutions.”

Bloomberg told the Financial Times on Monday that he’s “looking at all the options” when asked about a run. “I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters,” Bloomberg said.

On the same page, the Globe which has endorsed Hillary Clinton said Bloomberg would make a credible candidate, and could potentially succeed where other third-party candidates have failed “But Bloomberg will need to make up his mind soon if he intends to be taken seriously.

The founder of his own media company, Bloomberg has been a Democrat, Republican, and independent. In the eyes of his admirers, it’s precisely his lack of partisan attachments that makes him so appealing, said the Globe.

However, Bloomberg, in his reluctance to definitively enter the race now, “casts doubt on his seriousness as a candidate. As both a practical and political matter, if Bloomberg really wants to win — and to convince Americans he’s the real deal, and not just a spoiler — he’ll need to jump in soon.”

Finally said the Globe, “ The longer he waits, the more it will appear that he’s trying to take a rich man’s shortcut to the White House.”

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