CNN town hall gives Green Party a primetime stage to reintroduce itself

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein held a town hall event last night, which aired on CNN, to inform voters about her party's platform. 

Dominick Reuter/Reuters
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein arrives at a rally of Bernie Sanders's supporters on the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 26.

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein held a town hall event that broadcast live on CNN on Wednesday, one of her most wide-reaching attempts to woo voters dissatisfied with the two major party candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but hesitant about voting for a third party.

During the talk, Dr. Stein discussed the dangers of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the White House, President Obama’s missed opportunities in office, foreign policy, her experience as a doctor, and systemic racism.

Without the influence of corporate donors, "We have the unique ability to actually stand up for what it is that the American people want, what everyday people want," Stein said, trying to dispel the idea that liberals voting for a third party candidate could push Mr. Trump into the White House.

Stein is a physician and environmental activist but has years of experience running for office. She was also the Green Party's presidential nominee in 2012, was nominated for Massachusetts' secretary of the Commonwealth in 2006, ran for Massachusetts state representative in 2004, and Massachusetts governor in 2002.

Her party platform focuses on environmentally friendly jobs, campaign finance reform, and tax increases for the wealthy.

During the town hall event, Stein emphasized her concerns about a Clinton presidency, questioning Mrs. Clinton's trustworthiness and support for war in foreign policy.

"I do have serious questions about Hillary's judgment, her safeguarding of national security information and above all, her trustworthiness in the job where she will have her finger on the button," Stein said, according to CNN.

Stein's running mate, Ajamu Baraka, a human rights advocate and associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies think tank, criticized Obama, reiterating his view that the first African-American president's neoliberal politics handicapped his "historic opportunity to transform this country." Both running mates have emphasized social justice, and the party's platform calls for "efforts to overcome the effects of over 200 years of racial discrimination."

Stein, a strong opponent of the war on terror, also called for a "peace offensive in the Middle East," including an embargo on weapon sales and cuts to military spending.

The Green Party has enjoyed a publicity boost in the wake of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont's energetic campaign, which stirred up splits within the Democratic Party. Nationwide, however, Stein still polls in fourth place, with roughly half the support of Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, who comes in behind Trump and Clinton. 

"Whatever happens, you know my campaign is here," Stein told Sanders supporters at a Democratic National Convention rally, according to The Atlantic. "We are going to continue this movement."

However, many Democrats are fearful of splitting the party vote and creating a Trump presidency in the process.

Stein's success could depend, in part, on Mr. Johnson's own success attracting Trump voters, Princeton University history professor Sean Wilentz told The Christian Science Monitor in early August. But "Libertarianism is a very amorphous category," he said, making it hard to predict Johnson's success, or lack thereof. 

Others think votes toward third party candidates will have more to with how certain a Clinton victory seems before November. If it looks like Clinton has secured the White House, Republicans unhappy with Trump and Democrats unhappy with Hillary will be more likely to vote third party.  

"I really think the popularity of the third party candidates this time around as a protest vote – because that's likely what it would be – is really going to be more about how much do people feel the other race is already decided," Lara Brown, the director of the political management program at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management, told the Monitor last month.

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