On Friday, The Commission on Presidential Debates announced that Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson will not be participating in the first of several upcoming presidential debates.
The first debate is set to take place on September 26 at Hofstra University in New York.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, as well as their running mates, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, respectively, are the only candidates who will be in attendance.
On October 4, voters can watch Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence discuss the issues onstage without either Trump or Clinton present.
If Stein or Johnson hope to be invited to attend the presidential debates scheduled for October 9 or 19, both third-party candidates would have to conjure up more voter support.
Stein expressed her opinions regarding the exclusion in an op-ed for The Guardian, where she noted that The Commission on Presidential Debates is actually a private corporation, and currently it doesn’t disclose any of its sponsors.
She went on to note some other places where the CPD falls short:
‘The CPD also keeps the debates within a narrow set of issues determined by party bosses. In 2012, the presidential debates skipped over major issues including gay rights, the war on drugs, domestic surveillance, housing and abortion. Climate change, the greatest crisis facing humankind, wasn’t mentioned even once.’
Stein concluded the opinion piece by throwing the ball back into the courts of Trump and Clinton, saying:
‘The question is simple: will Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand for open debates and American democracy, or not?’
In a statement, Johnson expressed a lack of surprise over the CPD’s decision to exclude him from the debate, saying:
‘I would say I am surprised that the CPD has chosen to exclude me from the first debate, but I’m not.’
Echoing a similar sentiment to Stein’s, he continued:
‘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 CPD requires all presidential candidates to register an average of 15 percent support in five recent polls selected by the commission.
The CPD used the ABC-Washington Post, CBS-New York Times, CNN-ORC, Fox News and the NBC/Wall Street Journal polls to determine percentage of voter support, and thus, by extension, which candidates would be allowed entry into the first debate.
According to the CPD, Johnson had 8.4 percent support and Stein had just 3.2 percent.
However, Johnson remains optimistic, saying:
‘It is unfortunate that the CPD doesn’t believe such a voice should be heard. There are more polls and more debates, and we plan to be on the debate stage in October.’
Although Johnson polls low in comparison to Trump and Clinton, he does make a good point:
‘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?’