October 15, 2008, 3:19 pm
Still to Come, the Third-Party Debate
By Leslie Wayne
If you haven’t gotten your fill of presidential debates after watching the McCain-Obama match-up this evening, mark your calendar for Sunday night.
That’s when Free and Equal.Org, a group formed to encourage third-party candidacies, is promoting a debate at the Columbia Political Union at Columbia University in New York for all six candidates seeking the presidency. The group is pretty much resigned to the fact that neither Senator John McCain nor Senator Barack Obama will be there.
But, others will show, they say. Amy Goodman, principal host of “Democracy Now!” a program of the left-leaning Pacifica radio, will host the event. C-SPAN will also be there to record it. Ms. Goodman, in a recent syndicated column, called for opening the current two-party debates, to more candidates. “It will not only make for better television,’’ said Ms. Goodman in her column, “it will make for better democracy.”
Just exactly who will be there is still murky, since certified letters have just gone out to all candidates, say event organizers. Ralph Nader, who is on the ballot in 45 states as an independent candidate, has indicated he will show up. Cynthia McKinney, former member of Congress from Georgia and the Green Party candidate, will also be there, according to her website. Ms. McKinney is on the ballot in 30 states. Also invited is Chuck Baldwin, running on the Constitution Party ticket in 35 states.
Mr. Baldwin is perhaps the least known of the group. He’s an evangelical minister and hosts a conservative talk show in the Florida panhandle region. He also has gained the endorsement of Ron Paul, whose bid for the Republican nomination garnered a loyal and enthusiastic following.
The only question mark is Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate. Mr. Barr has made it clear that he will only debate Mr. Nader and no one else.
Christina M. Tobin, an event organizer and a Nader campaign staffer, said that she “challenges” Mr. Barr to show up.
“Let him show that he is a true Libertarian,” said Ms. Tobin, who grew up in a prominent Libertarian family. “This is a golden opportunity to get exposure and for people to hear his views. For him not to show up would be denying his Libertarian principles.”
Ms. Tobin added that if this event, which will be held at 8 p.m. is successful, her group plans to hold another one a few days later.