Joined: Jun 27th, 2005 Posts: 31719 Location: Japan
September 5, 2008
As John McCain prepared to speak to the nation a few miles away, independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader argued Thursday that the presidential debates should be open to others besides McCain and Barack Obama.
"If we did get in on those debates, the Nader-Gonzalez ticket would make it a three-way race," said Nader, whose running mate is Matt Gonzalez, a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Nader, the former consumer advocate who ran for president in 2000 and 2008, was the main attraction at a rally at Minnesota's Orchestra Hall. He was joined by former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who touted his own experience as a good example of the importance of letting third-party into debates. He said he doubted he'd have won his race in 1998 if he hadn't been able to make a strong impression in a series of debates.
"When third parties are allowed to debate, a lot of strange, enormous and funny things can happen," Ventura said. "We're supposed to be a country of a level playing field and fairness. I don't see that today."
The Commission on Presidential Debates has set three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate in late September and October. Nader said there are several ways to determine who should get to participate in debates - whether they registered above 5 percent in national polls, or a separate poll that asks whether certain candidates should be allowed in.
"Exclusion, censorship, repression, marginalization are not the American way," Nader said.
Ventura, asked if he planned to endorse a presidential candidate this year, said he might but that he wanted to watch the debates first - and hoped that more than just McCain and Obama were able to participate.
"I'm certainly hoping they give me more than Coke and Pepsi," Ventura said. "Occasionally, I like root beer."
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