Four lesser known candidates for president sparred sparingly with one another, while aiming their rhetorical blows on the major party candidates who weren't there in the Alternative Candidates Debate in Chicago Tuesday night. The forum, sponsored by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation, brought together four candidates of parties unfamiliar to most voters. But Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, Jill Stein of the Green Party, Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson, and Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party raised a wide range of issues that received little to no attention in the three presidential debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
"Look, there is only a couple of voices being heard here and its Tweedledee and Tweedledum," said Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico. Johnson chided the major party candidates for "speaking about who's going to spend more money on Medicare when Medicare is system that you and I pay $30,000 into and get 100 thousand in benefits. It's a 3-1, what you pay in and what you get out. It's not sustainable."
Anderson, a former mayor of Salt Lake City and one-time Democratic nominee for Congress in Utah, knocked both Obama and Romney on military spending and for supporting more drilling for oil both on land and offshore. "And neither of them even dares to talk about getting rid of this disastrous, failed war on drugs," he said. "Neither of them talks about catastrophic climate change and neither of them talks about poverty when we've got the worst poverty rate in this country since 1965. So we need to open up the choices."
Stein offered "a green New Deal to create 25 million jobs, end unemployment, jump start the green economy, and that means putting a halt to climate change and making wars for oil obsolete." A physician residing in Lexington, Massachusetts, the Green Party candidate is also calling for universal health care coverage and for public financing of political campaigns. She would favor eliminating private contributions with a constitutional amendment that would make clear that "money is not speech and corporations are not people" She called for free public higher education, arguing that the government should be "bailing out the students, not the banks," a phrase she repeated several times during the 90-minute debate.
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