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/.

WAMU 88.5

It Takes A Nation: Art For Social Justice At The Katzen Arts Center

As the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party, graphic artist Emory Douglas created striking visual images for the movement's publications and posters.

NPR

Long Criticized In China, Tipping Makes A Comeback At A Few Trendy Restaurants

Viewed for decades as capitalist exploitation, tipping is now being encouraged at some upscale, urban restaurants catering to wealthy, young customers. Restaurateurs insist it's strictly voluntary.
WAMU 88.5

It Takes A Nation: Art For Social Justice At The Katzen Arts Center

As the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party, graphic artist Emory Douglas created striking visual images for the movement's publications and posters.

NPR

Live Fact Check: Trump And Clinton Debate For The First Time

NPR reporters and editors are live annotating Monday night's debate. Read the latest fact check, analysis and context here.

Leave a Comment

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