Ralph Nader is a five-time candidate for President of the United States, with a particular concern for consumer protection, environmentalism and democratic government. Some claim the lecturer and attorney has been merely a political disruptor over the years, acting as a third-party spoiler for instance in the 2000 U.S. presidential election.
Sounds like what some conservatives are already saying about GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul.
But a couple of notable things first about Nader: He's had a fierce political niche following over the years and he has pushed hard on a few core topics each race that he's driven home time and time again in the effort to stoke change. In 1996, for instance, Nader was a candidate for President for the Green Party ticket, and he qualified for the ballot in 22 states, pushing for environmental reforms.
Similarly, Paul -- a doctor and U.S. House member from Texas -- has emerged on the conservative side of the equation in the 2012 Republican presidential nomination race as a Nader of sorts, cultivating a passionate group of supporters in a niche core group while pushing for specific initiatives over and over in the style of Nader.
It's just that his initiatives come from a totally different direction. Sometimes, Paul makes so much sense that leading campaigners competing against Paul don't know what to do with him, he drives them so effectively crazy in the heat of political debate. Consider Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate as one example.
During a commercial break in the debate candidate Rick Perry, the GOP front runner and Texas governor, continued a spirited exchange on stage. Suddenly, Perry grabbed Ron Paul's forearm, aggressively pointing, according to one report, his index finger towards the Congressman's face.
As a result on Thursday, the Internet has been blazing with Ron Paul's passionate supporters accusing Perry of assaulting their candidate while defending Paul as winning the debate. Some public polls after the debate even yielded the same result, with 70 percent or more suggesting that yes, Paul did win the debate.
It's the same type of passionate movement that Nader developed over the years, peaking in about 2000. But Paul, who comes from the right while Nader typically is viewed as coming from the left, has arguably more assets in his political war chest than Nader. After all, Paul is currently serving in the U.S. House, and he's from Texas, a great big state that wields considerably political influence.
But just like Nader in past years, Paul is pushing hard for a couple of edgy viewpoints he wants to drive home in this race. With a campaign slogan that promotes, Liberty, Prosperity, Peace, Paul, for instance, has been a consistent critic of the U.S. Federal Reserve, and quite outspoken on the issue, though Perry has tried to match wits on the subject in recent weeks. He's also been outspoken on America's war in Afghanistan, suggesting it's past time for America to bring home troops.