Third-Party Candidates, Excluded From the Debates, Participate Via Social Media

It’s no secret that third-party presidential nominees Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are chomping at the bit to participate in the presidential debates. Unfortunately, neither nominee joined Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump onstage for the first of the debates, held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Monday night. Each found a way to make their voices heard in the political cacophony, however.

Stein was escorted from the Hofstra campus because she reportedly “didn’t have credentials to be there.” She shared images of her police escort via Twitter:

Following her removal from campus, Stein was joined by dozens of activists protesting the exclusionary nature of the debates. Stein used the streaming app Periscope to share video of the protests on her Twitter page, tagged with #OccupyTheDebates:

Stein also reported that more than a dozen protesters had been arrested, and claimed that the Green Party’s official website was hacked to keep voters from seeing her platform.

Johnson, who has repeatedly urged for inclusion in the debates, watched them from Twitter’s Manhattan headquarters. Perhaps due to his exclusion, Johnson was reportedly on edge. Lizzie Crocker of The Daily Beast described him as “instantly irate” during interactions with reporters and said that his running mate, Bill Weld, had to intervene repeatedly to calm the situation. Crocker writes:

Minutes before [Monday] night’s presidential debate began, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate and former New Mexico governor, was shouting at a reporter in a conference room in the basement of Twitter’s New York City headquarters. …

This was not the warm, affable Johnson we know, the 63-year-old, mountain-climbing triathlete and first major national politician to favor legalizing marijuana. You half expected him to break the silence with a characteristically goofy grin—his own “gotcha” moment.

Instead, Johnson became more enraged. Certainly this was no act, but he wanted to make a point that he’d be just as bullish if the issue came up in a debate.

Despite these incidents, both Johnson and Stein were able to settle down and log in to Twitter in time for the opening of the debate.

The two third-party candidates reacted to the full spectrum of issues covered in the first debate, such as taxes, the criminal justice system, cybersecurity and foreign policy. Johnson commented via written tweets, while Stein occasionally commented via live video:

By the end of the debate, both nominees expressed dismay in Trump and Clinton:


and Stein each wrapped up their live-tweeting with additional pleas for inclusion in the next two debates.

After the debate ended, there was still plenty to discuss. Stein joined Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now!” for a live after-show. Instead of simply breaking down Trump and Clinton’s positions, Stein was shown clips from the debate and asked to respond as though she had been onstage. Goodman served as the “moderator.”

The candidates were still at it Tuesday morning. Johnson joined Reason Magazine’s Matt Welch for a post-debate Facebook Live interview, in which they fielded questions from the audience. Stein, meanwhile, sat down with The Huffington Post’s Alyona Minkovski for a post-debate analysis.

According to the most recent polls, Stein and Johnson still do not have enough support to be included in the next debate, according to rules established by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Both candidates have launched petitions asking for inclusion in the debates; Stein’s has more than 100,000 signatures, while Johnson’s has topped 1 million.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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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