Should third party candidates be allowed to debate?

Third party candidates didn't make the cut, but their campaigns are promising to fight on.

SEATTLE - Minor party candidates have been shut out of the first presidential debate next week, after not reaching the 15 percent polling threshold.

However, the candidates and their supporters vow to fight on. 

“It is a rigged game. The Presidential Debate Commission is made up of Democrats and Republicans who have absolutely no interest whatsoever in seeing anyone else on the debate stage,” Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson told KING 5, during his visit to Seattle Saturday.

Johnson has said his campaign depends upon making it into the later presidential debates in October. When asked what he plans to do between now and then?

“Maybe we raise the volume on the fact that Ross Perot was polling less, lower than we are right now and he was the last presidential candidate on stage,” said Johnson.

Perot was the last third party candidate to debate before the rules changed in the year 2000, to require a 15 percent polling threshold to participate.

The Latest Real Clear Politics average puts Johnson at just under 9 percent, with a Quinnipiac poll as high as 13 percent.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein is polling at only 3 percent, but like the Libertarians, her supporters fault national surveys for favoring the major parties.  

“Some of the polls that they choose to count, Jill Stein isn't even listed on there,” said Stein supporter Jody Grage of Ballard.

“It makes me wonder how we can claim to be a functioning democracy,” said Grage who carries with her a list of the impact made by minor parties on U.S. politics and policy.

“Listen to this list: the abolition of slavery, a woman’s right to vote, social security, unemployment insurance,” she read from her notes.

Grage, who is running a Green Party volunteer operation out of her basement in Ballard, said Stein’s campaign is attracting a number of local Bernie Sanders supporters unhappy with the major parties.

“The Bernie Sanders people, many of them are new people, who were not active politically, and they are absolutely outraged,” said Grage. “They are angry; they are used to working hard, and they are ready to go.”

Local Stein supporters plan to demonstrate in Seattle, the night of the first presidential debate. There will be larger demonstration outside of Hofstra University in New York, the location of the first debate.

“People have a choice of just rolling over and saying ‘well, that’s just how it is; there isn’t anything we can do about it,’ and actually doing something about it,” Grage told KING 5. 

Copyright 2016 KING


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