Four third-party presidential candidates will square off in a live-streamed debate from Chicago on Oct. 23, the day after the final Obama-Romney debate. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode, and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson will participate.
The debate, organized by the nonprofit organization Free and Equal Elections Foundation, invited "four candidates representing a nice balance of right and left," according to Christina Tobin, chair of the organization. "This debate will cover the real issues facing our country such as foreign policy, the economy, and civil rights, rather than topics that further divide us." Democratic Party candidate and incumbent Barack Obama and Republican Party candidate Mitt Romney have not responded to invitations, according to the organization.
On Oct. 4, President Obama and Governor Romney wrapped up the first of three presidential debates organized by the nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). The CPD requires a candidate to garner at least 15% support across five national polls to participate in the debates.
On Sep. 21, 2012, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson filed an anti-trust lawsuit against CPD, the Republican National Committee, and the Democratic National Committee in DC Circuit Court asking for "injunctive relief by temporary restraining order... by enjoining defendants... from conducting presidential debates unless all constitutionally-eligible candidates are included whose names will appear on the ballots in states whose cumulative total of electoral college votes is 270 or more." The lawsuit goes on to claim that CPD is "conspiring and contracting to restrain the plaintiffs from participating in the electoral process."
Under Johnson's expanded criteria, only Johnson and Stein would have been included along with Obama and Romney in the CPD debate out the 411 people who registered with the Federal Election Commission as a 2012 presidential candidate. Three sponsors pulled out of the debates during the last week of Sep. 2012 in response to the exclusion of third-party candidates.
The second and third presidential debates will take place on Oct. 16 and 22, and the sole vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will take place on Oct. 11.
Commission on Presidential Debates, "CPD Announces 2012 Moderators," debates.org, Aug. 13, 2012
Free and Equal Elections Foundation, "Four Candidates Confirmed for the 2012 Presidential Debate Hosted by Free and Equal Elections Foundation," freeandequal.org, Sep. 27, 2012
Alex Marin, "Gary Johnson Will Debate October 23 in Chicago, Though Obama and Romney Declined," policymic.com, Oct. 1, 2012
Joel Palmer, "Gary Johnson Will Participate in a Presidential Debate," examiner.com, Oct. 2, 2012
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