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Feb 18 2016

First Ever National Libertarian Debate to Be Televised

first national libertarian debate

The first ever national Libertarian debate is happening, and it will be televised. The new was released earlier this week by Governor Gary Johnson’s campaign after a previously scheduled debate was canceled. The previous debate was scheduled for February 26th-28th via John Stossel, the International Students for Liberty Conference, and the FOX Business Network. Itwas set to include Austin Peterson and John McAfee as presidential nominee hopefuls. However, the debate conflicted with the dates for the Libertarian Party of Alabama/Mississippi Joint Convention. Johnson was scheduled to appear at the joint convention, and therefore turned down the invitation to appear at the ISFL and FOX debate. This incited the anger and disappointment of many Party members, some even accusing Johnson of being “afraid of debating Austin Petersen and John McAfee” and “chickening out.” They argued that a national viewership was far more important than smaller, local bases, as the Party must receive 5% of the national vote in order to receive federal funding in future elections.

Petersen made a statement that “this is why we can’t have nice libertarian things” along with the hashtag, #WhereIsGaryJohnson? He complained that Johnson was ruining the opportunity for everyone involved. Moreover, while accusing Johnson of fear, he failed to acknowledge that both he and McAffee were also scheduled to attend the same AL/MS debate with Johnson; however, according to a press release directly from the AL/MS Libertarian Party, Petersen and McAfee both canceled to go to Washington. Now that the February Washington debate is canceled, both candidates are back on board. Despite Petersen neglecting to acknowledge the AL/MS LP in any of his recent statements, he and McAfee are both listed as attendees on his website. McAfee’s statement was also rife with disappointment, and somewhat accusatory, but at least acknowledged that both he and Petersen had had the same prior commitments and didn’t use phrases like, “do you even liberty, bro?” So, that’s that.

Earlier this week, Johnson’s campaign released the following statement:

The Gary Johnson 2016 campaign has confirmed with Fox Business’s Stossel that Gov. Johnson will be delighted to participate in a televised debate among Libertarian Party presidential candidates, hopefully in March. We will of course leave the formal announcement of the debate details and date to the Stossel show, but want to express our gratitude to Mr. Stossel for working to find a date for this important event that will not disrupt any planned Libertarian Party activities and that is actually doable for all the candidates who are involved.

So, hope is not lost for Libertarian Party members. Though an official date has not been announced, it will be the first national Libertarian debate in the Party’s history. According to Nielsen Media Research, FOX Business Network ended 2015 as the fastest growing cable network of the year. FBN’s first ever presidential debate reached a record breaking 13.5 million viewers. Though the Libertarian debate will undoubtedly see fewer viewers, it will certainly reach more people than ever before.

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