Greens Blast Presidential Debates
GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Artificial Presidential Debate,
Call for Open Debates
Green candidate David Cobb will participate in an open-forum presidential debate earlier in the evening on Thursday.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Green Party leaders called the presidential debate scheduled for Thursday, September 30 a spectacle designed to restrict discussion about important issues, and accused the Commission on Presidential Debates of rigging the event and blocking third party candidates, including Green nominee David Cobb.
"The Commission on Presidential Debates is an insult to every American voter and an affront to democratic elections," said Jody Grage Haug, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. "The Commission is owned and operated by the Democratic and Republican parties. Its very goal is to preventing other parties' candidates and independents from participating, and to restrict the content of the debates to a superficial level, without the threat of probing, unscripted questions."
An August 12, 2004 U.S. district decision struck down as "contrary to the law" the Federal Election Commission's refusal to allow challenges to the Commission on Presidential Debates. The ruling, which acknowledged the Commission's bias in favor of the two parties, was in response to a lawsuit filed by the Green Party, Ralph Nader, and several other political parties and presidential candidates.
In sharp contrast to the debate between Sen. Kerry and President Bush, a presidential debate earlier in the evening will allow media, students, and the public to question Mr. Cobb and Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik. (Independent candidate Ralph Nader has not yet accepted an invitation to participate in the open forum debate.)
The event will take 5 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Ballroom, 1350 S. Dixie Highway (across the street from the Bush-Kerry debate site), in Coral Gables, Florida. From 9:00 p.m. until 10:30, the candidates and audience will watch a live broadcast of the restricted, two-party debate after which Mr. Badnarik and Mr. Cobb will offer their rebuttals.
Two non-partisan student organizations, the University of Miami's Council for Democracy and the Miami-Dade College Student Senate, are sponsoring the open-format debate along with the Center for Voting and Democracy.
Greens argue that the only fair criterion for inclusion in presidential debates should be whether a candidate has his or her name on enough state ballots to win the election.
"What's at stake is the right of voters to know about the names they'll see on the ballot," said national co-chair Marc Sanson. "Voters have a right to be informed about all the candidates, not just the ones that a poll or a commission declares the most popular or the most viable. Americans either have a right to learn about and vote for the candidates who represent their needs and ideals, or democracy is a sham."
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The Green Party of the United States http://www.gp.org 1700 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 404 Washington, DC 20009. 202-319-7191, 866-41GREEN Fax 202-319-7193
Center for Voting and Democracy http://www.fairvote.org
"Greens Hail Federal Court Ruling in Favor of Third Parties' Complaint Against the Commission on Presidential Debates." Green Party release, August 13, 2004 http://www.gp.org/press/pr_08_13_04b.html
Cobb/LaMarche 2004 http://www.votecobb.org
2004 Green candidates and elections http://www.greens.org/elections/
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