The bipartisan commission organizing next week’s presidential and vice-presidential debates decided today to exclude all minor candidates and invited only Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush and their running mates to participate.
As a result, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, Reform Party hopeful Pat Buchanan and a number of other “third party” candidates will not be able to participate.
The bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates had previously announced the debates would be open only to candidates on the ballot in enough states to theoretically win the election and with around 15 percent support in public opinion polls.
“Of this group, solely George Bush and Al Gore were found to have achieved the criteria’s requisite level of support in the selected national public opinion polls,” the commission said in a statement.
Nader and Buchanan have vigorously protested against the commission’s criteria, saying they were intended to stifle their views and prevent them from presenting themselves to voters.
The first presidential debate takes place next Tuesday in Boston and the only vice-presidential debate in Danville, Ky., two days later.
The commission said it would meet again Oct. 8 to consider the poll situation before issuing invitations for the final two presidential debates, scheduled for Oct. 11 and Oct. 17.