The NPR Third-Party Candidate Debate

Play associated audio

What's it like to be a third-party candidate running for president? Ralph Nader can tell us.

"You're excluded from the debates," he says. "You spend an exhausting amount of time, until Labor Day, trying to get over the ballot access barriers. Your petitioners are harassed in the streets; you're subjected to baseless lawsuits by one party or another."

Nader has run for president three times – four if you count the time he ran unofficially. In 2000, he managed to win almost 3 percent of the national vote.

To this day, getting a third-party candidate into a presidential debate is practically impossible. The Commission on Presidential Debates says to be included, you have to poll 15 percent with voters. That's why George Farah, founder of Open Debates, a group that wants the system reformed, thinks the commission is the main problem.

"This commission exists for the principle purpose of protecting and strengthening the two parties," Farah says. "And every four years they allow the major party candidates to negotiate agreements that dictate many of the terms of the debates — including the exclusion of popular third-party voices."

So given the two major party candidates had 90 minutes and at least 50 million viewers for their debate last Wednesday, we decided to invite two of the third-party candidates to a debate of our own.

Gary Johnson is the Libertarian Party's nominee. Jill Stein is the Green Party's nominee. They joined moderator — and host of weekends on All Things Considered — Guy Raz for a debate focusing on domestic issues: the economy, health care and the role of government.


Debate Highlights

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

In 'Porcelain,' Moby Searches For Validation And Finds Unlikely Success

The electronic musician's new memoir traces his journey from Connecticut suburbs to New York City raves. It's a tale of dance clubs, DJs and Manhattan in the 1990s full of self-deprecating humor.
NPR

To Survive The Bust Cycle, Farmers Go Back To Business-School Basics

Farming is entering its third year on the bust side of the cycle. Major crop prices are low while expenses like seed, fertilizer and land remain high. That means getting creative to succeed.
WAMU 88.5

Power Plant Fight In Prince George's County

A predominantly African American community in rural Prince George's County recently filed a federal civil rights complaint in response to plans to build a third power plant in one town, and fifth in the region.

NPR

Reports Peg Tech Billionaire As Funder Of Hulk Hogan's Case Against Gawker

The New York Times says entrepreneur Peter Thiel confirms he has been bankrolling the ex-wrestler's lawsuit. Gawker is appealing a jury award to Hogan of $140 million over publication of a sex tape.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.