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Third Party Presidential debate: when and where, if at all?

Ballot Access News reports

The proposed Baldwin-McKinney-Nader debate that had been planned for Sunday evening, October 19, is very unlikely to happen. It seems that none of the candidates who were originally invited (including Bob Barr, and on a theoretical basis, the major party nominees) had really committed and really wanted to participate. McKinney and Baldwin have both expressed displeasure that communications between their campaigns and the debate organizers were not clear. Nader seems to have concluded that he will only debate with Barr (except, obviously, he would also debate with the two major party candidates).

It is still conceivable that a Barr-Nader debate will be organized.

In the meantime, now lists Cynthia McKinney as being confirmed to participate in an online Presidential debate which will take place at the same time as the above mentioned Free and Equal debate, which was to have taken place at Columbia University in New York City, moderated by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, and broadcast by CSPAN and possibly also by the Pacifica radio network. ThirdPartyTicket is continuing to take pledges, and has 9,588 towards a goal of 10,000. The date on which the pledges are to be collected, originally October 8, has changed several times, and is now listed as October 19.

Earlier, Free and Equal had indicated that Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney and Chuck Baldwin will all be attending their debate. Free and Equal was originally listed as a co-sponsor of the Third Party Ticket debate, along with Break the Matrix, Daily Paul, Open Debates, and Steal Back Your Vote. It was later removed, after it announced its own separate debate.

Third Party Ticket had originally listed its debate as to take place in New York City, but later was changed to be online only. It was organized by Trevor Lyman, who organized Ron Paul’s multi million dollar money bombs. Free and Equal is organized by supporters of Ralph Nader and Mike Gravel. IPR is currently trying to get input from the two organizations and other interested parties as to what happened between them.

In the meantime, only one candidate (Cynthia McKinney) has firmly committed to one of the debates, which will be online only, and presumably will only take place if at least one more candidate commits.

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  1. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | October 17, 2008

    I think Nader has managed his campaign pretty well this time. In 2000, he had the support of the Green Party, was not yet saddled with all the negativity of those who blamed him for Bush, etc.

  2. darolew darolew October 17, 2008

    I’ll admit I haven’t been around for too long but this seems to me to be an amazingly lackluster year for third parties. Consider: There are two former congressmen running (Barr and McKinney), one Ron Paul-endorsed candidate (Baldwin), and a nationally recognized figure who in past years received millions of votes (Nader).

    Given all that, one would expect for at least one of them to do pretty well, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Nader won’t do nearly as well as ’00. McKinney’s campaign seems to hate media coverage. Baldwin is ignored. Barr’s getting press but a good chunk of it is negative and it probably won’t translate into votes.

    This failure to organize a decent third-party debate is just another wasted opportunity which reflects poorly on these campaigns.

    I mean, is it just my naïveté which leads me to think that these campaigns should have gone better? Or is this really the best third parties can do under the circumstances?

  3. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | October 17, 2008

    New update, including a statement from ThirdPartyTicket/Break the Matrix

  4. Ross Levin Ross Levin October 17, 2008

    Don’t worry, I won’t 🙂

  5. G.E. G.E. October 17, 2008

    These losers don’t want media attention. Let them all go down in flames.

    Don’t vote.

  6. Ross Levin Ross Levin October 17, 2008

    I commented this on that blog entry you just posted, paulie:

    To Bob Barr and campaign:

    Please attend this debate, and encourage Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, and Chuck Baldwin to do the same. It’s possibly the best opportunity until the election for all of your names to get out there to the general public. Just since the idea was announced, it had a small article in the NY Times (reposted from their blog), Nader has had an article in the Times, and it has created some buzz.

    Every time I talk about third party candidates to my friends outside of them, they tell me that yes, they wish there was another option. Well, let’s show everyone that there are four more potentially winning options this November, and even more on the local level.

    Mr. Barr, you have cancelled events on short notice before, so there is little reason not to do it again.

    Thank you,
    Ross Levin
    Staff writer for and

    (I am not writing on behalf of either website)

  7. Trent Hill Trent Hill October 17, 2008

    CCCP,lol. nice.

  8. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | October 17, 2008

    Addressing the New York Times article from today and reiterating what Andrew Davis has already said, no one speaking from or on behalf of the campaign has has told any media outlet that Bob would not participate in this debate.

    Our original focus, as Bob told Reason magazine a two months ago, was to get in the debates with Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama. Obviously that didn’t work out and our options expanded.

    We are open to the idea of a third party debate if Bob’s schedule permits and it is organized properly with details laid out clearly to the campaign more than a few days before the debate is supposed to take place.

  9. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | October 17, 2008

    They should be the Conservative Christian Constitution Party (CCCP) or perhaps CP-USA.

  10. G.E. G.E. October 17, 2008

    The capitalist anti-immigrant posts a sign on his property that says “NO TRESPASSING.”

    The socialist (i.e. the CP) agitates for the government to restrict the private property of others.

    The “Constitution” Party should segue into being known strictly as the “CP,” they can eventually just go all the way with “Communist Party.” No one will ever even notice.

  11. Ross Levin Ross Levin October 17, 2008

    Just to let everyone know, I was listening to NPR after the debate on Wednesday and one of the people who called into the show was a Chuck Baldwin supporter because of his anti-immigration stances, one was someone who wanted to vote Nader but was voting Obama, and two of the people in the audience that spoke were Ron Paul supporters who said they didn’t like Obama or McCain.

  12. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | October 17, 2008

    For Immediate Release:
    Friday, October 17, 2008

    John Judge, Media Secretary, McKinney/Clemente Power to the People Campaign, 202-584-1021,

    Green nominee Cynthia McKinney to speak in online presidential candidates’ forum, Sunday, Oct. 19

    • Web site for the broadcast:

    WASHINGTON, DC — Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney will participate in a webcast forum for presidential candidates on Sunday, October 19, to be aired 7 to 9 pm on (


    Cynthia McKinney will join other candidates who’ve been invited to the online forum, which has been organized by’s Trevor Lyman (


    Ms. McKinney will not appear at a candidates’ forum at Columbia University on the evening of October 19. The news of Ms. McKinney’s participation in the Columbia event was released to the media in error by persons who are unassociated with the McKinney campaign, and who had not confirmed such an appearance with Ms. McKinney or her staff.

    “We invite everyone to go online, tune in to, and listen to Cynthia McKinney and the other candidates debate real issues. We’ll hear Ms. McKinney offer ideas that have been censored from the McCain-Obama debates — ideas that most Americans support, like bringing our troops home now, health care for everyone, and help for working Americans facing financial difficulty instead of a $700 billion bailout package for Wall Street,” said John Judge, media secretary for the McKinney/Clemente Power to the People Committee.

    Cynthia McKinney and running mate Rosa Clemente were nominated by the Green Party at the Green National Convention in Chicago this past July.

    “A vote for Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente is an investment in a growing progressive antiwar party that accepts no corporate contributions. No other candidate in the 2008 election offers the hope of a permanent alternative to the Democrats and Republicans and the corporate interests that the two established parties serve. The Green Party isn’t an alternative, it’s an imperative,” said Ms. Clemente.

    Greens and other Americans have objected to the format of the McCain-Obama debates, which were sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), and which excluded all candidates except the Democratic and Republican nominee.

    The CPD, which sets rules for candidate participation, is owned and run by the Democratic and Republican parties, which have an interest in excluding all candidates except their own. Greens noted that the CPD is funded through contributions from corporations, which have their own interests in limiting the candidates who participate in the debates.


    Cynthia McKinney/Rosa Clemente ‘Power to the People’ Campaign for the White House

  13. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | October 17, 2008

    As far as I can tell, McKinney is the best candidate on the immigration issue.

    Not quite enough by itself to convince me to endorse her, but it does get me a good part of the way there, since I think it is a very important issue.

  14. G.E. G.E. October 17, 2008

    Well, vote for open borders Bob the flip-flopper.

    If only Bob Barr were for “open borders” (i.e. private property and capitalism). Alas, he’s almost as Communist as Baldwin, the mental midget on par with McCain in its economic feeble-mindedness.

  15. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | October 17, 2008

    Any corrections to comment 5 before I post it as an article?

  16. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | October 17, 2008

    Barr has been roughed-up by many (including myself) over nothing.

    Not so. If it is true that Barr’s position is that he should not debate Baldwin and McKinney, he is hurting his own argument when he asks to be included in major party debates, since Baldwin and McKinney are not so far behind him by any measure. At this time, it is not clear to me whether this is Nader’s position as well. If it is, he deserves the same criticism.

    Baldwin and McKinney have clearly committed to the idea of a debate with all four (six if the major party candidates were to accept). However, due to conflicting schedules among the debate organizers and failure to coordinate the candidates schedules, it may or may not come together.

    The big question mark here is Nader. He can debate Barr, debate Baldwin and McKinney, or both separately.

    If he agrees to debate Baldwin and McKinney, Barr will not look good as a result.

  17. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | October 17, 2008

    Richard Winger in BAN comments

    Nader debated in 1996, once, with Harry Browne, John Hagelin, and Howard Phillips. He seems to have concluded from that experience that he won’t debate presidential candidates with a lesser campaign, any more. And he didn’t in 2000, and he didn’t in 2004. In 2004 there was a Badnarik-Cobb-Peroutka debate, but Nader wouldn’t participate in that.

  18. chuckmoulton chuckmoulton October 17, 2008

    Thanks for looking into that, Paulie. It’s good to have some facts.

  19. Ross Levin Ross Levin October 17, 2008

    Why do they still need 10,000 peoples’ money? It probably costs all of $10 to get an online debate going. Especially if only one person participates, there’s no way I’m actually going to donate to for the “debate.”

    For 2010 and 2012, we third party people really need to pick it up a notch and start organizing these things MONTHS, not days, ahead of time.

  20. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | October 17, 2008

    I will be offline soon, and am likely to be going on the road today, so if anyone else wants to get additional info from the various campaigns, Lyman, etc., please do so.

  21. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | October 17, 2008

    I have not heard from Lyman or anyone else at ThirdParty Ticket as to whether they have a different version of any of these events.

    There does appear to be a general interest from the candidates to be in a debate, although coordinating their schedules is proving to be difficult. Barr is reportedly only interested in debating Nader, and reports about what Nader is willing to do are conflicting.

  22. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | October 17, 2008

    paulie, it sounds like no one wanted to do the debate. Barr has been roughed-up by many (including myself) over nothing.

    I just spoke to Christopher Thrasher of Free and Equal. He told me the following (going by my notes, please pardon and correct any mistake):

    1. Free and Equal did not say which candidates would attend its debate. The confusion came in because when you go to

    and go to news

    What is there is actually an article from the NY Times, not a press release from Free and Equal.

    Thrasher said that in fact, Free and Equal had learned that Nader was “likely” to attend their event and that McKinney “would be” attending it from the NY Times (that is, from the article posted on their site).

    It appears that in the case of McKinney, the NY Times reporter may have been confused, and that she was in fact referring to the ThirdParty Ticket debate, which is the one her website says she will be at.

    2. According to Thrasher, national Green Party members reported being told by McKinney staff that other candidates (including Barr) had confirmed that they would be in the Third Party Ticket online debate.

    3. Chuck Baldwin will not be available for either debate, but is interested in being in a debate in the future.

    4. Amy Goodman will not be available to moderate, but may be available at a future time.

    5. High level negotiations are under way between the Nader and Barr campaigns for a debate.

    6. Thrasher said that Trevor Lyman lost interest in the Third Party Ticket debate; however, still lists Lyman as the contact (see bottom of page), and the site is still being regularly updated.

    7. Thrasher said that Free and Equal would like to do more than one debate, as well as a VP debate or debates.

  23. iamanamerican iamanamerican October 17, 2008

    Theocratphobia? Well, vote for open borders Bob the flip-flopper.

    Barr and Nader trying to pull a anti-democracy stunt like the demopublicans by only debating who they wish?

  24. yankeefox yankeefox October 17, 2008

    paulie, it sounds like no one wanted to do the debate. Barr has been roughed-up by many (including myself) over nothing.

  25. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | October 17, 2008

    I’m also interested in the sources for Nader’s position (IE when and where he said what, what exactly he said, whether it was him or a spokesperson, etc).

    Free and Equal indicates that

    Ralph Nader, who is on the ballot in 45 states as an independent candidate, has indicated he will show up

    . says

    AMY GOODMAN: Super rally on Wall Street at noon. And will you also be at the debate on Sunday night, third-party debate at Columbia University?

    RALPH NADER: Well, I just heard about it after you told me about it last night, and-Amy, and I’ve got to look at the schedule and see.

    AMY GOODMAN: Well, if-

    CYNTHIA McKINNEY: I’m with Trevor-I’m with Trevor Lyman at the from 7:00 to 9:00 on October 19th.

    AMY GOODMAN: And we’ll put information on our website, because supposedly I will be moderating this debate if it does happen, and we’ll let our viewers and listeners know.

    Thirdpartyticket says

    Click here to contact Chuck Baldwin

    Click here to contact Bob Barr

    Cynthia McKinney – CONFIRMED

    Click here to contact Ralph Nader

    BAN says

    Nader seems to have concluded that he will only debate with Barr (except, obviously, he would also debate with the two major party candidates).

  26. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | October 17, 2008

    If the debate organizers get it together, I agree with Joe Buchman @ LFV

    “There is no need to limit the debates to the usual handful of carefully choreographed contests. Let us argue the issues, after which the American people can make their decision on Election Day. Surely the citizens of the greatest nation on earth deserve no less.”

    Bob Barr, June 2008, Comedy Central.

    I agree with Bob Barr. He should tell Bob Barr to go to the debates. I hope Bob Barr listens.

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