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“Ralph who?” the young woman in black sunglasses said to a reporter, behind the set of The Queen Latifah Show. She looked at her clipboard and said something about stress; besides, LL Cool J was coming, and so was Downtown Julie Brown. “Oh, you mean the guy running for president. Yeah, he’s here somewhere.”
Queen Latifah invited Nader onto her show because she was worried. Her audience is made up of 18-to-24-year-olds, who typically aren’t registered and don’t vote. So she asked election.com to set up a booth outside her studio to register her audience, dragged an archaic-looking voting booth on stage, demonstrated how to pull the lever.
And what about this whole debate thing? If most Americans want to see him on the nationally televised debates, then, like, why wasn’t he invited? What was the deal? Nader gave his usual campaign shtick: Corporations are bad things, ordinary people are good things, and too many riches for the wrong people.
But moments of truth never happened when the cameras were rolling; the first commercial break showed more. Latifah fled backstage. And for 30 seconds, Nader sat there, alone, his hands firmly planted on his thighs as if they were sewn into his rumpled blue suit. He was waiting for other people to act. Something he’s gotten used to.