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Mar 29 2016

First Nationally Televised Libertarian Debate to Air April 1st

libertarian debate

After much drama and hoopla, the first ever nationally televised libertarian debate has been confirmed for April 1. The debate is set to air at 9pm EST on the Stossel Show on Fox Business, though it will actually be filmed on March 29th.

The Libertarian Party’s website lists a total of 15 candidates for the Libertarian nomination, though at this time only three have confirmed they will attend the debate – former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, software creator John McAfee, and former “Freedom Watch” producer Austin Petersen. According to Petersen’s website, the debate is scheduled to be two hours long and air in two segments.

The Libertarian Party is America’s third largest political party, and in 2012 Johnson garnered over 1 million votes in the general election – more than any other candidate in the party’s history. According to a recent Monmouth University poll, Johnson is polling double digits against front-runners Trump and Clinton. While approximately three-quarters of respondents said they didn’t know enough about Johnson to form an opinion, a national debate could provide the exposure that third party candidates need to reach a wider audience.

Though this week’s debate is the first ever nationally televised libertarian debate, it is not the first third party debate to hit the air waves. In 2012, the Free and Equal Foundation organized third party debates between the Green, Constitution, Justice, and Libertarian parties that were moderated by Larry King. While they aired across the country, the debates received little attention.

The Libertarian National Committee and Our America Initiative are currently suing the Commission on Presidential Debates for the right to be included in national debates this fall. They argue that if a candidate is included on the ballot in enough states to possibly win the presidency, he or she should be allowed access to the debates. Despite being on the ballot in 38 states in 2012, Green Party candidate Jill Stein was arrested for attempting to enter a debate hall during a presidential debate. She was charged with disorderly conduct. According to current Commission rules, a candidate must have a mathematical possibility of receiving all 270 electoral votes and must be polling with at least 15% support in order to participate.

The Libertarian Party is expected to be on the ballot in most, if not all, 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia.

“We urge all Americans to tell their friends, co-workers, and family to watch this important debate and see they have a choice,” said LP Chair, Nicholas Sarwark. “They do not have to settle for candidates who are bigoted and insulting; who curry favor with the titans of Wall Street; who put our troops in harm’s way; who have no intention of stopping runaway government spending; and who force Americans to buy lousy yet unaffordable insurance plans.”

1 comment

  1. Shawn Levasseur

    Technically, not the “first ever nationally televised libertarian debate”.

    C-Span has done several of these in the past, as part of their coverage of the LP’s national conventions.

    The first one on commercial television, probably would be more accurate.

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