Take it from a guy who knows: Ralph Nader says Donald Trump's third party bid could be kryptonite for GOP

The perennial third-party presidential candidate says Trump can cause the GOP big headaches

Published July 24, 2015 2:40PM (EDT)

  (AP/Jae C. Hong)
(AP/Jae C. Hong)

Donald Trump has floated a potential third-party run should the GOP run him out of the Republican primary and Ralph Nader, who has his own extensive (and controversial) history with running as a third-party candidate, thinks the Republican Party should take his threats seriously.

"The Republican Party establishment is playing with nitroglycerine when it goes after Donald Trump and tries to minimize him and exclude him," Nader told CNN this week. "Because a jilted Donald Trump as a third-party candidate can blow the presidential race wide open and turn it into a three way race."

Nader, who's been tagged with the title of "spoiler" over charges that his 2000 Green Party run allowed George W. Bush to prevail over Al Gore, is a four time third-party candidate who argues that Trump has nothing to lose with an independent run. Writing in a blog post last month, Nader argued that Trump's candidacy alone is "a big nightmare for Republican contenders," citing the media attention to sucks up and away from the other 15 contenders:

If he survives the first three months of mass media drubbing him and his notorious affliction of ‘leaving no impulsive opinion behind,’ he’s going to be trouble for the other fifteen or so Republican presidential candidates.


If he is still campaigning by Labor Day, watch out Republicans!


If the Republican bigwigs try to exclude or humiliate him, Trump has the means to run as an Independent candidate for president – as Mr. Perot essentially did under the banner of his Reform Party. Just the prospect of that added nightmare might induce caution at the top levels of the GOP.

For his part, Trump appeared to walk back his threats, telling reporters yesterday, "I want to run as a Republican." Trump argued that the best way to beat Hillary Clinton is for the GOP to nominate him as the Republican nominee:

 I’m a Republican. I’m a conservative. I’m running. I’m in first place by a lot, it seems, according to all the polls. I want to run as a Republican. I think I’ll get the nomination. We’ll see soon enough. but I think I’ll get the nomination. The best way to win is for me to get the nomination and run against Hillary—she his worst Secretary of State in the history of our country. She will be beaten and I’m the one to beat her.  And I will take jobs back. The reason I won with the Hispanic vote and will win all over, because I’ll take jobs back from China, from Japan, and every country that is killing us. I’ll bring the jobs back—ask the Hispanics are going to get those jobs—they will love Trump, and they already do.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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2000 Elections 2016 Elections Al Gore Donald Trump George W. Bush Gop Ralph Nader Third Party Candidate