It’s official: Third-party candidates left out of presidential debate

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Friday that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and their running mates are the only candidates who will participate in the upcoming debates.

This means Trump (R) and Clinton (D) will take part in the Sept. 26 debate at Hofstra University in New York and that Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein have not been invited.

The Oct. 4 vice presidential debate will just include Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence.

It’s still possible Johnson or Stein could be invited to the presidential debates scheduled for Oct. 9 and Oct. 19, but they would have to attract more support in polls.

“I would say I am surprised that the CPD has chosen to exclude me from the first debate, but I’m not,” Johnson said in a statement.

“After all, the Commission is a private organization created 30 years ago by the Republican and Democratic parties for the clear purpose of taking control of the only nationally-televised presidential debates voters will see. At the time of its creation, the leaders of those two parties made no effort to hide the fact that they didn’t want any third party intrusions into their shows.”

The commission required that candidates register an average of 15 percent support in five recent polls the commission had selected. Johnson and Stein both failed to meet that threshold for the first presidential and only vice presidential debate on the schedule.
In the commission’s sample of polls, Johnson averaged 8.4 percent support and Stein averaged 3.2 percent.

The Stein campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Both have railed against the commission’s criteria, saying that it unfairly limited voters’ options in an election cycle where the two major-party nominees are both historically disliked.
“It is unfortunate that the CPD doesn’t believe such a voice should be heard,” Johnson said. “There are more polls and more debates, and we plan to be on the debate stage in October.”

In an interview with The Des Moines Register earlier this month, Johnson said that even though his poll numbers are low compared to Clinton’s and Trump’s, the results show he is supported by millions of people.
“Our polling is ticking up,” Johnson said. “It’s ratcheting up. And so if we’re not in the first debate, there’s a good chance we’ll be in the next debate. But I’ll just ask you this: When you’re representing 13 million people, how do you discount that? How do you say 13 million people shouldn’t be represented on the stage?”

Evan McMullin, who launched an independent presidential bid in August, said in a tweet that the debates are “rigged” and proposed that he, Stein and Johnson hold their own debate.

Though Johnson and Stein are securing just single-digit support in most polls, many voters still want to see them in the debates.

A Morning Consult poll earlier this month showed that 52 percent of voters wanted Johnson on the stage at the first debate, and 47 percent said the same about Stein.

H/T: The Hill

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