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Green Party’s Jill Stein Ramps Up Criticism of Opponents

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein on the campaign trail earlier this year. (Gage Skidmore / CC 2.0)

Jill Stein is growing increasingly aggressive in her campaign strategy as the November general election draws closer. She’s been served with an arrest warrant for her participation in protests against the Dakota Access pipeline and has continued to push for third-party inclusion in the presidential debates taking place this fall.

But most of all, she’s begun to ramp up her campaign by focusing on the differences between her and her mainstream political opponents. She kicked off the week by attacking GOP rival Donald Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in an interview and during a campaign appearance.

In a podcast recorded last week but published Monday, Stein, a doctor, was asked about Trump’s health—a key topic over the past few weeks. “You know, I don’t pretend to be able to do TV diagnosis, but I think the guy has a problem,” she said. “The guy has a lot of problems—physical, mental, emotional, cognitive … You know, the guy may have a memory problem. Who knows what it is? But he’s incapable of having a consistent thought or policy.”

Stein also addressed the “lesser evil” concept, which has been a key point of her campaign for months. In the podcast, she said that choosing between a Trump presidency or a Clinton presidency was like choosing between “death by gunshot or death by strangulation.”

She continued this “lesser evil” narrative during a speech at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. Angela Rowlings of the Boston Herald reports:

“People say, ‘Well, aren’t you afraid of Donald Trump getting elected?’ I’ll say yes, that would be a horrible thing,” Stein said. “But I am also terrified of Hillary Clinton in the White House with her finger on the button.”

Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd at Hindle Auditorium, Stein said that while Trump “says despicable things,” Americans can’t afford a presidency under Clinton, either. By “expanding a no-fly zone” in Syria, Stein said, Clinton has provoked a potential nuclear war against Russia.

“When you vote for the lesser evil, you’re allowing yourself to be silenced,” Stein said to more than 200 in attendance at the Norton campus. “And if we are silenced, you create a moral vacuum. Democracy needs a moral compass that is not coming from political parties funded by our predatory banks and fossil-fuel giants and war profiteers.”

Stein’s new campaign strategy is also abundantly clear on her Twitter feed, which is filled with political critiques of her opponents:

Stein, however, is walking a fine line between criticism of Clinton and promotion of Trump. “I’ve never said Clinton is ‘worse than’ Trump,” she tweeted on Monday. “Both are terrible candidates for different reasons.”

In her podcast interview, Stein even critiqued Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. “I think he’s on the wrong team, perhaps because he’s been in Washington, D.C., too long,” she said, “because he used to really understand independent politics and why we cannot have a viable political system unless we have independent political parties.”

It’s unclear whether her new political tack will have a positive effect on Stein’s poll numbers. She remains in the low single-digits, whereas her third-party rival, Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, has broken out into double digits. Both Johnson and Stein have argued for access to the presidential debates, but both failed to qualify for the first debate, scheduled for Sept 26. Johnson has not responded to Stein’s plea for a third-party debate against him if the two fail to make it into the mainstream debates.

Emma Niles
Assistant Editor
Emma Niles, an assistant editor at Truthdig, graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a degree in political science. She has worked for the National Women’s Law Center and Ms. Magazine.…
Emma Niles

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