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Do you think the presidential debates should be open to third-party candidates?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on October 10, 2008

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Photo of Scott Ozier

“I believe so. It would give people access to other opinions and candidates, especially if they’re not agreeing with either party right now. We don’t often get a chance to hear their views.”

Photo of Laura Razo

“Yeah, I think they should just to be fair to everyone and to be able to hear another point of view. It might take votes away from either major party, but I think that’s fair as well.”

Photo of Kendra Lemon

“I would say no. It seems like people are rarely informed enough about third parties or even who the third-party candidates are. Why would they vote for someone with so little influence to run the country?”

Photo of Jimmy Fisher

“I think it’s a good idea. But I think it’s more important earlier on in the election; after that it should be narrowed down to two candidates for the final debates. I think it would help us find the right person, because we definitely need the right person right now.”

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Finn12 9 years, 5 months ago

To blue73harley -- not buzzing flies anymore. That's old school. These days, both the GOP and DNC are headed toward the same goal (socialism), just different routes. Obama will get us there (to a socialist state) faster than McCain. But I think both men are all talk. At least 3rd party leaders know what they stand for. Buzzing flies? Ron Paul has swarming hornets. At least, I'm angry at the political puppets, the bankers....and want to defend the "hive" called the US of A. Throw the bums out!

Jcjayhawk1 9 years, 5 months ago

Reasonable and viable is irrelevent. I feel that a 3rd or 4th party can add additional value just by responding to the questions. We know where the current candidates stand. Throw a few more in there and kick it up a notch. We might just hear something different, something with more perspective on the issues and priorities the president should consider. It's just too bad that the candidates really only have time to scratch the surface of the issues. We are interviewing these people to run our country. I want them to explain to me in detail how they are going to achieve what they say they will. I don't care if it takes 2 hours just to get through one topic. I want to know. I also want to know that THEY know what the hell they are talking about instead of the automated responses to the soft questions.Vote with your heart and conscience. If you do that then no one can tell you that you're wasting your vote. Voting for the lesser of 2 evils is still a vote for evil.....and that IS a wasted vote.

JustMe2409 9 years, 5 months ago

A few points.First of all the political party of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were at least as partison as our current parties. This current election reminds me of the late 19th century elections. 2 very bad major candidates. I hope the America responds the way she did in the early 20th century and spawn a "Bull Moose" party.What I am very concerned about is the proposal that the government take a partial ownership interest in the banks. The Washington Post is reporting that Obama tried to influence the Iraqi government to not go along with President Bush's withdrawal plan.

Trobs 9 years, 5 months ago

A Third party would be great. In fact, invite the Green, Constitution, Libertarian, Reform, and any other parties. This country is suppose to be a democratic republic. We are suppose to be able to select our leaders. It seems more and more our leaders are selected for us. The empty suit of chance and the senile old man are not who I want leading this country during a time of economical crisis. Give all candidates a voice. Not just those giving kickbacks to the media.

CrazyDiamond 9 years, 5 months ago

Tom Shewmon says:...if we suffer (make it) through four years of an Obama/Reid/Pelosi Washington.Not so fast Tom. We still have to finish suffering (hopefully make it) through Junior's 8 year reign of ____ (fill in the blank)

gogoplata 9 years, 5 months ago

Yes Yes Yes. Nader, Barr, Baldwin, and McKinney should be in the presidential debate. Neither Obama or McCain will introduce real change. The people of this country need to stop allowing ourselves to be deceived by partisan politics. Give up this Democrats vs Republicans train to nowhere and realize it is the People of this Country vs Washington Democrats and Republicans.

vlamp55 9 years, 5 months ago

this country is supposed to be based on democracy. out of 5 possiable presidential candidates we are being forced to swallow what only 2 are saying. why have the others been excluded from the debates? i watched the presidential debates. im upset neither candidates really answered any questions . the fact that the questioner kept repeating the same ones over and over is proof of that. i hate the fact that the media is only pandering to the repubs and demos. i voted for nader 2 times now. i am scared to death of what obama and maccain plan for our country. im sick of all the lies about health care . i know that whichever candidate of these 2 cannot influence the private insurance companies one way or another on what they choose to cover. glamour magazine had an interview with mccain. even in this interview he didnt really answer any questions of signifigance but he is for anti abortion and a few other issues that would throw us back into the 40's. i mean throw women mostly back into the dark ages where we have no choices of our own. what does a man care if a woman has the right to make choices of her own? as long as dinner is on the table and the woman is naked! mccain is not the way to go. and obama wants to feed more money into foreign accounts before we get our own countries finances fixed? come on!!

sgtwolverine 9 years, 5 months ago

I know he got mentioned already, but I have to say it: only third-party candidates named Lee Mercer, Jr. I wouldn't miss a debate that included Mercer.Anyway: I think the format of the debates should be changed to table tennis matches.

sunflower_sue 9 years, 5 months ago

prospector, I could only wish! Alas! I have to play surrogate parent to another kiddo tonight and also have to play momma taxi to my high-schooler. sigh

sunflower_sue 9 years, 5 months ago

prospector, does Randy drink Scotch, too? ;)

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 5 months ago

Open the debates to audience heckling.( Supply ripened tomatoes. )

canyon_wren 9 years, 5 months ago

Yes, although at this point, the two dominant parties have such a stranglehold, financially and media-wise, on the campaigns that it probably wouldn't do any good. There will have to be some major changes in the way everything works for us to have a real choice. It seems almost like elections in "dictator countries," where it is essentially "set up" so that we don't really have much to say about who our candidates will be. That is so discouraging. I am sure there were equally undesirable candidates in years long past, but it seems like the whole thing has deteriorated significantly for this election.

Trobs 9 years, 5 months ago

"what does a man care if a woman has the right to make choices of her own? as long as dinner is on the table and the woman is naked!"Those were the days.....

kidicarus 9 years, 5 months ago

Tom Shewmon - What do you think of your chosen one's plan to buy out all bad mortgage loans? Why aren't you screaming socialism at that? Seems like it would qualify under your very loose and delusional definition of socialism.

jaycat 9 years, 5 months ago

Simply put. "You betcha and lets duel."

Trobs 9 years, 5 months ago

If we did that now Invictus we might have better people in power.

sunflower_sue 9 years, 5 months ago

I would very much like to see it.prospector, a fifth of what?

ms_canada 9 years, 5 months ago

Sheesh - I could hardly take an hour and a half with two candidates, how long would a 5 candidate debate take? And three debates? Yikes!!

badger 9 years, 5 months ago

Yes and no. I mean, if any yayhoo calling himself a third-party candidate can get in, then the debates get even less useful, if that's possible.However, if a candidate is on the ballot in more than, say, 40 states, let him or her in (I'd have let Nader in, if only because being forced to speak in front of something besides converts might finally have shown clearly enough that he is not a good candidate, just a candidate who sounds good on paper when you're not thinking too much about his positions). If a political party garners more than 5% of the vote in either of the last 2 elections (Presidential or Congressional), then their candidate can be in the debate.I don't want a free-for-all, though. There should be some tests for viability.

Trobs 9 years, 5 months ago

The founding fathers of this country are rolling in their graves when they see how much fighting there is between the parties. I am sure they had their own squabbles, but our country is approaching the edge of the abyss and fast. And all the Ostrii do is stick their heads in the sand.

Satirical 9 years, 5 months ago

I think all the liberals should vote for a third party candidate (just not the same one)

tvc 9 years, 5 months ago

Nader is on the ballot in 45 states. We should allow ballot qualified third party candidates to debate. Why don't people want choices in the presidential candidates? This is not just an issue with democrats, I am sure there are many financial conservatives that wish the party did not have to placate the social conservatives.

craigers 9 years, 5 months ago

I would like that. Since neither candidate is who I would really like for the president of the United States, other options to hear would be great. Third parties will never have a chance at winning if they aren't involved with the events that help people decide who they will vote for.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 5 months ago

All presidential candidates should be heard in all debates that is the bottom line. Otherwise our choices are selected by the two parties,special interest money and the media. When the media decides it cuts third or fourth parties out of the news when in fact these people might be very candid on many subjects and the better candidates.Nader offers one of the most practical platforms to date and pushes public financing. Special interest money and the media controls our systems as we speak. The media takes in tons of dough.If americans wants a say in government we need to eliminate special interest financing of all elections including Lawrence,kansas elections. The bottom line. Voter/taxpayers can force the issue if we want. There are more voters anyday than there are special interest groups. Voters should be demanding these matters be placed on the ballot. AND every four to six years replace elected officials as a matter of routine providing there are no neoconservatives on the ballot.For example when are voters going to realize the USA should not marching our military around the world as if we know what is best for everyone? Number one we cannot afford this crap. Number two the world does not support this crap and wants it stopped. Number 3 it is breaking the bank don't kid yourself. Why don't we the USA pull out of Iraq? That would make some people happy with us since most of the world did not support that action. Perhaps the largest majority of the world is sick and tired of our military dominance and abuse of power.Forget Afghanistan too. If there was a real enemy in that location it is my belief BUSHCO lost that opportunity.Since the USA has the mightiest military in the world perhaps economicpressure from the world is a way to stop the PNAC mission of worldwide military domination? total military and corporate withdrawal from Iraq!Singlepayer National Health InsuranceCut the bloated and Wasteful Military Budget!(50% of every tax dollars goes to the military)No to more very expensive nuclear energy! Yes to solar and wind! *Aggressive Crackdown on Corporate Crime and rip offs! - Does anyone really believe that elected officials will do anything so long as special interest money is in the picture? Shouldn't a number of financial executives be in court instead of receiving billions in tax dollars for their activities?Where in the world do politicans always find money to invade the mideast yet claim the USA does not have the money for national health insurance,new industry thus new wealth for the USA,public schools,Vo-Tech Schools and college tuition. War is a money hole not an investment in the USA!

Flap Doodle 9 years, 5 months ago

Yes, and give each candidate an inflated pig bladder on a stick.

Trobs 9 years, 5 months ago

Bob, I'm Rob!...ha!Anyway, yes. Bring back duels. You fight, or step down from your post. We should definitely include lobbyists for duels. "War on Drugs vs Potheads, tonight on Spike!"Ha!

JayCat_67 9 years, 5 months ago

"I would say no. It seems like people are rarely informed enough about third parties or even who the third-party candidates are."Translated: "Nobody knows these guys so no one should be able to get to know these guys." or "We should only get to know those whom we already know." I suddenly feel the urge to squeeze a lemon...

Nikki May 9 years, 5 months ago

At the very least, it would make the two main ones look at other questions. It may not give a boost to the third party, but it will open more eyes.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 9 years, 5 months ago

Of course. This is the only way to stimulate ANY kind of discourse, not that it will do much. There is no such thing as a republic in this time and place. This so called election process is the worst kind of conspiracy. The mavericks and so-called agents of change are mere sycophants of power. They feed each other our blood like a bad married couple who give drugs to their unruly kids while they plan their summer vacation, investments and nanny contracts. It's despicable. Make parties illegal. Make knee-jerk dumbashers think. Make a real change. Ignore the bashing and stupidity of these arguments about whose debt is worse. We are the johns of two-faced, two party lies and thievery. We abide by the holes of these lies. Our debt is perpetuated by our ignorance and belief systems, systems feeding us just enough to purchase tickets to our own demise, the sale of our future to those who would profit from it, those who would sell our souls to another country for a few lifetimes of familial bliss. We can no longer afford to buy these lies.What was the question?~)

Mixolydian 9 years, 5 months ago

There are 13 presidential candidates appearing on this years national presidential ballot. 8 more candidates qualified to be on the ballot in at least one or more states.21 candidates on one stage? No. Underwater knife fight in a cage....maybe.

kansas778 9 years, 5 months ago

Here's a simple solution--if you can get on the ballot in at least half of the states, you can be in the debates. I would love to hear from third party candidates because these two parties have failed this country.

sdinges 9 years, 5 months ago

Obviously not every third party candidate can be involved, but as several people have pointed out, there could easily be a set of guidelines to help weed out the less serious ones.The debates have become a useless, boring farce anyway. The two candidates sit there and ramble on about their memorized talking points, often ignoring the questions and rarely engaging in actual debate with one another. Imagine what a difference it would make to have a couple of third party candidates in there.Third party candidates are never going to be "viable" until they're properly included. If they cannot debate, how can people possibly get a realistic and educated view of them. But wishing for this is like holding my breath for a Republican party that represents small government, or a sane Democratic party. Hopes and dreams.

more_cowbell 9 years, 5 months ago

Once the candidates make it to the debates, the percentages take care of themselves. PosseComitatus mentions Perot; he received close to 20% (!) in 1992, and about half that in 1996. But getting into the debate is the key to getting the turnout. That's why the two major parties set up the CPD, to control access to the debates and keep it a two-party duopoly.Under badger's criteria of being on the ballot in 40 states, both Nader and Barr would have qualified this year:Nader (Independent): 46 statesBarr (Libertarian): 45 statesBaldwin (Constitution): 37 statesMcKinney (Green): 32 states(the next highest candidate is on the ballot in 12 states)from and Barr will likely get the highest percentage of the popular vote among the four listed, and while those percentages may turn out to be less than 5%, in some respects excluding them from the debate is an intentional tactic to keep them from getting more public attention--and thus, more votes. It's a catch-22.Of course, the events being staged by the CPD this year could hardly be called "debates". They're side-by-side stump speeches. The key is that the two major parties (again, who control the CPD) think the public won't demand an alternative.The sad fact is that they're probably right. We get the leaders we deserve.

PosseComitatus 9 years, 5 months ago

I like the idea of a 3rd party candidate. Perots participation in the debates actually forced both parties to focus on the issues. This is where Clinton promised to balance the budget. Pickens reminds me of Perot. Can we get him in the next debate?

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