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Third-Party Presidential Candidates Debate

Gov. Gary Johnson, Dr. Jill Stein and Virgil Goode are on Virginia's ballot this year. Rocky Anderson also participated.

The four independent candidates for president met for a debate moderated by Larry King Tuesday night at the Hilton Chicago.

Three of the four candidates are on the ballot in Virginia this year: Libertarian candidate and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein, and the Constitution Party’s Virgil GoodeRocky Anderson of the Justice Party took part in Tuesday night's debate as well; he is the only candidate not on the Virginia ballot.

Tuesday night’s debate was streamed lived at freeandequal.org, the website of a non-profit organization that works with all candidates (including Democrats and Republicans) “to promote an open voting process and help them through the complex process of getting on the ballot.” Free and Equal Elections also provides training for independent candidates to run effective campaigns and more.

This debate, unlike the presidential debates organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, allowed audience members to cheer and applaud. All of the questions came in via social media prior to the debate.

The first question focused on the two-party system (which candidates referred to as a “political duopoly”) and why the independent candidates believe democracy deserves more third-party discourse. 

While discussing the two-party system’s dominance and the influence of money on politics, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson suggested the Republican and Democrat presidential candidates wear Nascar-like jackets with sewn-on patches from their major donors.

The debate then backtracked to opening statements before proceeding to questions on drug policy (all candidates except Goode want to legalize marijuana), national security and more. Many of the candidates’ answers crossed topics from states rights to economics to foreign policy.

“The biggest threat to our national security is that we’re bankrupt,” Johnson said.

In closing statements, Goode advocated for term limits and removing Super PACs from the election process.

Stein advocated for turning politics on its head, starting a Green New Deal that she said would end climate change, and bailing out students and not banks.

Anderson also advocated for the importance of choice in the political discourse.

Johnson noted his entrepreneurial background and told voters, “Wasting your vote is voting for someone you don’t believe in.”

The twitter hashtag for the event was #NowThatsADebate.

Two of the independent candidates will debate Tuesday, Oct. 30 in Washington, D.C. The two candidates participating in that debate will be chosen by the public via online voting at freeandequal.org. Voting ends Wednesday night. (Shortly after the debate, the website was not loading properly due to a high volume of voting activity, but it was working by Wednesday morning.)

For more on the candidates on Virginia’s ballot, see .

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