Last time he ran, he gave GW Bush the White House, which led to the invasion of Iraq and a half million dead -- a pretty tough act to follow.....
Ralph Nader, the independent candidate blamed by many Americans for George Bush's election victory in 2000, says he is considering a run for the White House next year - even at the risk of dishing the Democrats again.
The left-of-centre Mr Nader, who made his name as a consumer rights campaigner, won only 2.74% of the national popular vote seven years ago. But his 97,448 tally in Florida is widely believed to have thwarted Democrat Al Gore, who lost the state - and the presidency - to Mr Bush by 537 votes.
Mr Nader said he knew he would be accused of acting as spoiler again if he decided to run. But it was essential that the country be offered a real choice in 2008 and it would be the Democrats' own fault if they did not win, he said.
"The two parties are still converging. I really think there needs to be more competition from outside," Mr Nader told the Politico newspaper today. "Democrats have become, over the years, very good at electing very bad Republicans. Democrats always know how to implode, how to waver, how to not be authentic."
Mr Nader sharply criticised Hillary Clinton, the Democrat frontrunner whose failure to back an immediate Iraq withdrawal has alienated many on the left. Her stance has toughened recently.
"She is a political coward," Mr Nader said. "She goes around pandering to powerful interest groups on the one hand and flattering general audiences on the other. She doesn't even have the minimal political fortitude of her husband."
Mr Nader, 73, enjoys high name recognition, is a familiar figure on American television and author of several books. All the same, political analysts say he cannot win and may have trouble getting on to the ballot in many states.
Influencing the conduct of the race and the accompanying debate was his main aim, Mr Nader suggested. His platform would focus on an Iraq pullout and "the expanding disconnect between the growth of the economy and the distribution to people who work hard but don't get the fruits of it," he said.
"What third parties can do is bring young people in, set standards on how to run a presidential election and keep the progressive agenda in front of the people."
Mr Nader's intervention adds another variable to what is rapidly becoming the most chaotic presidential election run-up in recent memory.
The number of declared or possible candidates is already well into double figures for both main parties. Yesterday, Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire New York mayor, also edged towards a presidential run as an independent, after quitting the Republican party.
According to a USA Today/Gallup poll this week, Mrs Clinton has established a 12-point lead for the Democratic nomination over Illinois senator Barack Obama. John Kerry's running mate in 2004, former senator John Edwards of North Carolina, is in third place.
But Democrat wild cards include Mr Gore, who some party loyalists would like to see join the race despite his oft-stated reluctance, and the leftwing outsider, Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich. Mrs Clinton is under attack meanwhile for supposedly relying too much on her popular husband, Bill Clinton, who opponents say is the Democrats' "shadow" candidate.
The Republican nomination contest is even more confused. Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, leads the field, ahead of a fading bid by Arizona senator, John McCain, and a rising challenge from former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney. But if Fred Thompson, the actor and conservative Tennessee ex-senator, steps in next month as expected, Mr Giuliani - under fire this week for dodging the Iraq issue - may be knocked off his perch.
Yet even as the politicians jostle for the glittering prizes, evidence is accumulating that voters want radical change all round. Mr Bush's approval rating is below 30% and falling. And a Gallup poll published today found only 14% of Americans are "confident" about the way the Democrat-led Congress is doing its job - an all-time low.