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Third Party Candidates Want McCain's Debate Spot

If the success of a rescue plan depends on its wackiness, this one might just work.

A couple of colorful third-party presidential candidates who both hail from Georgia but are ideological opposites are offering to save the first presidential debate. If John McCain goes through with his threat to skip Friday night's first presidential debate at Ole Miss University, Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney has offered to step in and debate Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

"I'm ready right now to travel to Mississippi," says McKinney, whose last most memorable act as a Democratic congresswoman from Georgia in 2006 was allegedly punching a Capitol Hill police officer who mistook her for an ordinary citizen at a security checkpoint.

Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party candidate, at a town hall meeting with students of Walden III High School and Middle School in Racine, Wisc., Sept. 5, 2008. (Photo -- The Associated Press)

Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party presidential nominee, also stands ready to save the day. "Given Senator McCain's political stunt to avoid the debate, I ask that Friday's debate moves forward without him, as I am more than willing to step in to participate," says Barr, who is perhaps best known for his zealous drive to impeach President Bill Clinton. (And, as Mark Hemingway at the National Review reminds us, Barr is also notorious for once shooting off a gun accidentally at a reception. Leave your guns at home on Friday, Bob.)

Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate for president, at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, Sept. 10, 2008. (Photo -- Getty Images)

McKinney was defeated about four months after her brush with police, in August 2006, by primary challenger Hank Johnson, who is now the Democratic congressman representing McKinney's old seat. She had made a brief comeback to Congress after both she and Barr, who was a Republican congressman, lost to respective primary challengers in 2002.

And here they are today, both making a wild stab in the dark to get on that presidential debate stage Friday night.

"Any presidential candidate who is on enough ballots to be
elected deserves to participate," McKinney said in a statement released by the Green Party late Wednesday. "We need multi-party presidential debates, and I'm ready to go up against Barack Obama or any other candidate and present my ideas to the American people. I should be included in these debates whether McCain shows up or not,"

Ditto that from Barr. Just as Ronald Reagan chose to debate independent presidential candidate John Anderson one-on-one in 1980, and just as George H.W. Bush demanded the inclusion of H. Ross Perot in all three presidential debates in 1992, so should Obama welcome Barr to the stage. According to Barr, of course.

"It's time that at least one of the two leading presidential candidates show leadership and provide the American public an opportunity to witness an open and fair debate, based upon substance and issues rather than sound bites and rhetoric," Barr said in a statement issued today.

McKinney, who is black, blamed race as the reason why the Capitol Hill police officer stopped her in the spring of 2006 when she breezed past the magnetometer. That's when she belted the cop with the cell phone she was carrying.

Known as an outspoken radical, the former congresswoman and current Green Party presidential candidate - whose campaign mantra is "Power to the People!" - also gained national attention when she suggested the Bush administration may have orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

She lost her 2002 primary campaign soon after that. And her father, former state representative Billy McKinney, spelled out the reason why his daughter was defeated: "J-E-W-S."

And here's why McKinney thinks she should be allowed to debate Obama Friday night: "Voters deserve to know which candidate best represents their interests and ideals."

As for Bob Barr, if the presidential political landscape is hurled even further into the Twilight Zone and he does wind up on the Ole Miss debate stage Friday night, our advice to Obama is: bring breath mints.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  September 25, 2008; 11:35 AM ET
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Cynthia Mckinney have you lost your mind
Obama is not your enemy,Mccain is ,he works
for the racist Rush L.he should be the one stepping up and debateing obama,he's in
male heat for the guy,we need you to help
ouster rep.westmoreland of Ga.all the Black
men who fought for this country for his
pappy,he he's going to label us as UPPITY
and you know what that means in the south
pick a real fightwith a racist foe like
that joke! we still love you cynthia as
our sister.

Posted by: BO | September 25, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Nader has also stated he would take McCain's spot:


Senator John McCain's decision to suspend his campaign and participation in the first presidential debate is pure and simple showboating. The Washington DC bailout by Bush and his Congressional allies of the Wall Street crooks and speculators is not dependent on Senator McCain's return to Washington.

He has been an advocate of the deregulation that caused this debacle and offers nothing significant to address it. However, tens of millions of Americans depended on Senator McCain to show up at Friday's debate in Old Mississippi.

They expected him to do so and have arranged their plans to watch him interact with Barack Obama. By turning his back on at least 50 million American voters anticipating Friday's debate, he has dishonored his commitment and undermined the respect which he hoped the American people would accord him during his presidential campaign.

I urge him to restore his honor and self-respect by ending this political stunt and maturely fulfilling his commitment on the presidential debate stage this Friday.

Should he choose to maintain his present, impulsive course and leave an empty chair on the stage, I would be most pleased to take his place as the number three Presidential candidate in the race.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 25, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Obama should have accepted the McCain debate delay but on condition that they simply reverse Friday debate with the Vice Presidential debate. It would have been fun to watch the McCain camp figure out why Palin couldn't do the debate this Friday.

Posted by: Dennis R. Connolly | September 25, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

How about a debate between McKinney, Barr and Nader with Obama moderating? That's nicely symbolic of the America he hopes to build.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 25, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Like I said earlier: "If McCain doesn't want to debate, why not give the open seat to Nader? Invite all of the candidates on enough ballots to win the Electoral College. We'd have a real debate then. Maybe a real discussion about the problems that our nation faces would actually occur. If you believe that the debates should be open to non-corporate candidates, please consider making your voice heard today on this National Day of Action to Open the Debates. Call Obama, McCain, the Debate Commission, AT&T (the debate's corporate sponsor), Jim Lehrer, etc. Check out Nader’s site for more info. Thanks."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 25, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm...Interesting. Maybe Bob Barr would not be that bad of a replacement for McCain.

Barr would garner more national attention and hurt McCain's chances even more.

Posted by: Obama-Junkie | September 25, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I thought Nader made an interesting point in his press release: "The fact that a candidate can call for changing the date of the debate only two days before it is scheduled indicates how easy it would be for the candidates to also call for the inclusion of the leading third party and independent candidates, which would bring fresh ideas to the table on how our country can most effectively tackle this heavy economic challenge, starting with curbing our imperialist foreign policy."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 25, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I think this rush to Washington by McCain is another smoke screen.

Last I checked, the sitting president was George Bush. Congress has committees which oversee these financial issues and neither Bush nor Obama are members of the appropriate committees. While they are both working toward becoming a leader, they are just Senators.

The only reason McCain has to go to Washington is to try and reign in the republicans to ensure that they don't hang up this resolution (I guess he is more successful in person than on the phone?}.
The only reason Obama has to go to Washington is because Bush is doing McCain a favour by neutralizing Obama's campaign.

If this issue is resolved before the debate, then McCain can parry questions about this issue with his usual, it's in the past, it's over, it's not an issue anymore. It's clear that the more he actually talks about the economy, the more he sounds like a democrat.

I do agree with a poster above who suggested that Obama should have said, publicly, that he'd agree to defer the debate as long as the vp's in the contest use that opportunity for their own debate.

McCain would have been in a real pickle. Palin is not trustworthy enough to be left to her own devices.

Posted by: John | September 25, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I have heard a report that Sara Palin has offered to stand in for John McCain at the presidential debate. I guess this would either prove or dis-prove that she would be ready to assume the presidency if the need arises.

Posted by: Cathy | September 25, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin should stand in for McCain if he feels its necessary for him to be saving the economy in Washington. If she's strong enough to be our back-up President, she should be able to handle a debate.

Posted by: Veronica | September 25, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

McChicken is showing America his true color.


Posted by: Neil | September 25, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Barr, Baldwin, McKinney and Nader should be in that debate. We need to hear their views to ensure a fully informed democracy.

Posted by: Jim | September 25, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I say, bring em on, even if McCain does show up. 3rd party candidates serve to broaden, deepend, and liven the debate, even when they don't stand a chance.

I am an Obama voter, but I believe nonetheless that our 2-party system has outlived its usefulness and now is more of a hidrance to good governance and true representation than a means to that end.

What do the major parties have to fear?

A REAL substantive and challenging discussion, perhaps?

It is VERY frustrating that we don't get to hear the Green and Libertarian points of view, and even more frustrating that those viewpoints AREN'T THERE to keep the major party candidates honest. All we get year after year is the same watered down . . .well, sameness.

It's not benefitting us to limit debate to the two parties.

Posted by: stefani | September 25, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

As a long-time Libertarian, who recently left the party BECAUSE of Barr (I consider him an honest man, unlike McCain, and agree wholeheartedly with his stance on the partisan political corruption we face in DC, I just disagree with him on EVERYTHING else), and a staunch supporter of 3rd Party politics I say we NEED to have Barr, Nader and McKinney involved in a nationally televised event with Obama and McCain. But I do not think that this is the event.

This event was planned, scheduled and promoted as an Obama vs. McCain debate and there has been $5.5M in expenses what will not be recouped if McCain backs out. Americans NEED to understand that McCain DOES NOT stand for small-town, middle-class America...and this is Obama's chance to tell them.

Posted by: Josh | September 25, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Barr at least should get the chance. Obama needs someone conservative to debate to show contrast to their ideals. Plus it would boots Barr's ratings in GA, thus putting it back in play.

Posted by: Ash Smith | September 25, 2008 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin would kick Obama's butt!!

Posted by: David Bossie | September 25, 2008 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Look I'm leaning McCain myself but still HAVE ALL 4 UP THERE FOR PETE'S SAKES! GAAAWWW!!!

It's doesn't have to be paper or plastic, ketchup or mustard. Let the Liebertarian and the LOONY (Oh my bad the) GREENIE Party step in.

I actually AGREE with Bob Barr on a lot of stuff except I support the War on Terror. I would like to know his positions on certain things.

Even if McCain DOES SHOW up...let them ALL SPEAK! That's coming from a moderate Republican.

Posted by: A.B. | September 26, 2008 3:02 AM | Report abuse

Washington Mutual just went under. But, yeah, let's have a debate on foreign policy. It'll be fun.

I'm glad you people have your priorities straight.

Posted by: Roy Mustang | September 26, 2008 4:21 AM | Report abuse

PEOPLE!!! Don't you get it? The Democratic AND the Republican Corporations WILL NOT allow other parties to participate in the election, debate and democracy. Don't you see it? If Obama and McCain both demand it, it MAY happen... but they both don't stand a chance again the truth! All it will do is hurt their electoral vote count... so there is not way it will ever happen.

How to stop it? QUIT giving money to either party! Do your own research of each of the party's values and principles... The average middle class out number anyone else... if you people research... you'll find you are better off with another party... and take back the power of the people... not the corporations like it is now...

Posted by: Ed | September 26, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

If this country wasn't politically dominated by the Republicrat duopoly, we'd all be better off, but this is how they want it. The Commission on Presidential Debates is the Republicrat's handmaiden, because (after Perot) it set impossible "terms" of being "allowed" to debate. Of course McBama agreed to those terms.

Ask yourselves, what are the Republicrats so afraid of?

It's disgusting to me that the Republicrats go to such lengths to deny Americans real choice in elections, effectively silencing alternative views to maintain their chokehold on this country.

Let third parties into the debates!

Posted by: MacGhil | September 26, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

McCain is shaking in his now too big for him boots.Not only is he fearful of what will happen in the debate,but he must also shut up the moron who he selected as his running mate.When they asked her about the trouble in Georgia,and if they asked her if she knew where it is-I'm sure that she would have replied-north of Florida,at best. Now the disclosure of $25k which she received as payoffs.

Posted by: paulostroff | September 26, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

No mention here of Ron Paul. Wonder why? If all opinions were included in the debate I for one would like to hear his ideas re the present financial crisis and his "solution". What's to fear?

Posted by: Suzanne | September 26, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

McCain has chickened out since he's falling in the polls. Now McKinney and Barr step in to make the whole thing more of a comedy act than ever before. If this were not such a serious thing, it would be funny. I had wanted to go to the Apollo Theater in New York to watch the debate, but there are no more tickets there. Too bad I won't be there to see Obama talking by himself to the camera, but where I am going, at least they will have good food. I say, let any clown step onto the stage and just make fun of GW Bush.

Posted by: Robert Evans | September 26, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

No Democracy in America --

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I am so sick of all of this BS, that I'm thinking of moving to Europe! Enough of it already! McBush is an idiot, McPalin is a complete idiot, and Obama screwed up by not picking Clinton as his VP, along with her 15 million votes. Their ALL NUTS..let'em all debate until their blue in the face, it still won't change a thing. Americans will still be homeless, hungry, unable to make their house payments, having to give their pets away because they've lost their homes, will still be paying FOREVER for the BUSH/CHENEY/RUMSFLED unlawful-murder-spree war in Iraq, on and on and on. So, bring all those debaters on down...let'em blab on.

Posted by: Patricia | September 26, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

John McCaint has suddenly gotten quite concerned about the crisis on Wall Street.

Just more lies....

So much so that he has announced he’s suspending his campaign and rushing back to Washington so he can work with Congress on solving the problem and he wants Obama to do the same which will mean putting off that pesky debate they were supposed to have on Friday.

The situation was so urgent in fact that McCaint called up David Letterman personally to cancel his appearance on his show so he wouldn’t waste any time tackling the problem.

Except that he apparently had time to stick around long enough to film an interview with Katie Couric, to "expalin" the pathetic interview with peeeuuu Palin whereas she fumbles and get confused on such a simple subject....and literally self destructs on CBS.....

So while McCaint was at the West 57th street CBS News same point in time he would have been on Letterman.

Needless to say, Dave wasn’t impressed. In fact Dave had some pretty good points to make during the course of the show.

David Letterman was absolutely furious at Senator John McCain for snubbing him and instead making an appearance on a CBS News interview with Katie Couric.

According to Letterman, McCaint personally called him and apologized for bailing out at the last minute.

He said he was suspending his campaign to rush to Washington and help fight America’s biggest economic crisis since the great depression.

Letterman understood the urgency of this issue and said it was ok.

Boy, Was he mad when he knew that McCaint did not actually go to Washington to solve the ‘Crisis’ and fix the ‘Crater’ in the economy?

Letterman stopped his interview with Keith Olbermann midway to show a live TV feed of McCaint getting makeup for his interview with Katie Couric.

Letterman said something is terribly wrong with McCain’s campaign ..and it smells....(peeeuuu Palin anyone)and that he was just playing a political game by saying that he was suspending his campaign.

And when Dave saw McCaint with Couric having makeup applied to his cancer ridden head he yelled out and said: "Hey John, do you need a ride to the airport??????.

He felt this a political gimmick to stop his sliding poll numbers from sliding further. He repeatedly asked the same question - ‘Where is your running mate, Sarah Palin?’.

You do not suspend a campaign a month before elections, you get your second in command to run the show instead.

A total of 10 minutes was used up by Dave Letterman to shred McCain and his publicity stunt into pieces.

View David's Anger @

After the Walter Cronkite moment of 1968 now 40 years later for McCaint on David Letterman......I don’t think McCain will be scheduling a follow-up appearance anytime soon.

Thanks Again Dave.... for showing us the truth..yet again......McCaint can't multi-task.....

Its the end of the peeeuuu Palin bubble and McCaints lies.......

"Thanks but no thanks for more of the lies that bridge America to nowhere......"

Posted by: AlexP1 | September 26, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

The Presidential Debates Commission should be renamed for what they really intend to accomplish; i.e., the Presidential Debates Omission. They have, over the course of the last several decades managed to omit a good many candidates that could, if allowed to be heard, changed the country for the better.

I guess that it is going to take a 1929 style good, old fashioned Depression to get candidates in the debates that have fresh, new, and innovative ideas. The Presidential Debates Omission just will not give a voice to any candidate not in the status quo party system. Sad. Very sad.

As evidence that the media is also complicit in the candidate ommission effort, take the Washington Post, for example, they do not list any other candidates other than the status quo's on their web site. Such ignorance is deserving of the financial collapse that is looming in this country.

If the people of this country really want change, they must not be misled by the media, the status quo parties, and the naysayers. They have to promote candidates from the grass roots level and overwhelm the power of money with the power of numbers. It is the only way that a positive change will ever happen.

Posted by: wnettles | September 26, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

The 1992 Presidential Debates with Ross Perot were not dull. His warnings have now come true. Replace John McCain with Ron Paul. Add Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney. Barack Obama must earn his victory, not win by default.

Washington University '81

Posted by: true debate | September 26, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

The little snyde comments that the writer of this artice shows how bias the media is. Uncalled for.

Most people if asked would say to Open the debates to the qualifying 3rd Party Candidates. I know Ralph Nader is on the Ballot of 43 states.

We need to bring back Democracy in America. Open the debates, give Americans their freedom to choose. The so called Debate commission is owned by The Democrats and The Rebublicans. They make the rules and they had a very good reason for excluding 3rd Parties. Because they may actually win for one thing. And they would be able to show that both Obama and McCain are corrupt.

Obama and McCain voted YES to reintituting The Patriot Act. If more American knew that and knew exactly what The Patriot Act does they would never vote for a Democrat or a Republican again.

This reeks of corruption in the 2 Party System.

The 3rd Party candidates would expose this corruption and they can't have the people of America opening their eyes to the truth because they could not get away from making America a Dictatership.

Open The Debates so that the Democrats and the Rebublicans can finally be exposed for their corruption and their love of war and fleecing the American people by encouraging the media to black out the truth.

Please, for our childrens sake, Vote 3rd Party. Research each candidate.

Do not let our children have to live in fear of expressing their oppinions. Give them a chance to live in an America the way it is supposed to be. Free

Posted by: Melissa4Democracy | September 28, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

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