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October 9, 2000 8:44 PM   Subscribe

MetaFilter has already noted that Ralph Nader was prevented from debating Gush and Bore in the presidential debates hosted by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). Here is Nader's letter to the commission explaining the events and also making three demands that come due October 10...
posted by lagado (10 comments total)
From today's Z magazine mailing list item:

Mr. Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.
Mr. Paul G. Kirk, Jr.
Co-Chairmen Commission on Presidential Debates

Dear Mssrs. Fahrenkopf and Kirk:

On Tuesday night October 3, 2000, I attempted to view the
first presidential debate hosted by the Commission on
Presidential Debates (CPD) at the University of
Massachusetts. Though I have been excluded from
participating in the debates by the arbitrary and unfair
standards set by your private, bi-partisan company, I was
given a transferable ticket by a university student to
observe the debates in a separate auditorium reserved apart
from the corporate-sponsored audience in attendance for the
two-party show. I planned to view the debates so that I
could appear as a guest to comment on the debates later that
evening on a live broadcast by Fox News Channel from a
trailer occupied by them, at the debate site, with the full
permission of the CPD.

En route to the event, ticket in hand, and members of the
press present and recording everything at my side, I was met
by a security consultant, Mr. John Vezeris, who was flanked
by three uniformed state troopers. The security consultant,
while declining to present any credentials, told me that he
was "instructed by the Commission" to advise me that "it's
already been decided that, whether or not you have a ticket,
you are not invited." One of the police officers told me
that I would face arrest if I continued to remain on the
premises. The security consultant repeatedly refused to
divulge who from the CPD ordered this action and subsequent
attempts by my campaign to establish who ordered this
coercive expulsion with the aid of police officers have not
resulted in any names. I was stopped a second time by the
same police when I attempted to visit the news trailer for a
broadcast I was formally invited to do by Fox News Chief
Executive Roger Ailes and which had been arranged from the
premises. According to today's media reports, Mr. Kirk
claims I was excluded as a "point man for the protests,"
when I took no part in those protests and when
demonstrations by pro-Gore supporters did not result in
similar exclusionary treatment for Vice-President Gore. As
the Green Party candidate for the office of President, I am
not used to being barred by police officers from attending
public events for which I hold a ticket. Nor am I accustomed
to being physically prevented from attending approved
on-site newscasts and reaching national audiences from
venues where I am invited to appear. Indeed, the
Commission's decision to deploy public officers at a public
university to bar me from viewing the presidential debates
and participating at a subsequent onsite newscast because of
my political viewpoints and affiliation with the Green Party
violates both Massachusetts State and federal civil rights

Accordingly, in the spirit of a proposed settlement offer
for this outrageous and unlawful behavior, I am seeking the
following by 10 a.m. Tuesday morning October 10th:

1) An official, written apology from both of you, on behalf
of Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Albert Gore,

2) A contribution of $25,000 to the nonprofit The Appleseed
Center for Electoral Reform at Harvard Law School.

3) An assurance that I will not be barred from attending any
other CPD presidential debate venues for which I have an
invitation from the press or a ticket.

Should you not respond by Tuesday morning to these three
requests, the Nader 2000 Campaign will pursue its legal
remedies on Tuesday, October 10th.

Sincerely yours,
Ralph Nader

Ms. Janet H. Brown, Executive Director
Vice-President Albert Gore, Jr.
Governor George W. Bush

posted by lagado at 8:48 PM on October 9, 2000

jeez. I hope they give in, or if not, lose their shirts in court to Nader. There's no reason for his treatment.

Although, in light of everything, I'm kind of surprised he didn't get arrested to make a bigger deal out of the situation. I certainly would have taken advantage of the press that would surround such an event if I were in his situation.
posted by mathowie at 9:42 PM on October 9, 2000

I hope they don't and that Ralph goes after the commision and bankrupts it for good.
posted by Brilliantcrank at 10:41 PM on October 9, 2000

Did anyone see Nader parodying himself and his situation on Saturday Night Live? He stood outside the doors and Lorne Michaels wouldn't let him in! Funny stuff.
posted by owillis at 11:19 PM on October 9, 2000

10 a.m Eastern? Why not $1,000,000 or more money? Why not something for the children? What if they appologize and ask for him to be admitted, but do not pay, then what? Maybe the demands should be reconsidered or dropped because if put into a similar situation, not even Ralph would part with the money. Again, the tactics to deny him addmission only highlight what is wrong with politics today, but making these demands, which won't be met by either candidate, only adds fuel to the fire. Where are Pat's and eveyone else's demands?
posted by brent at 5:48 AM on October 10, 2000

The CPD isn't likely to change in the near future. Both parties are very much against opening the debates to outsiders.

As for legal action, I don't think that Nader will be at all successful. All judges are appointed by either republican or democratic officials.
posted by aladfar at 7:07 AM on October 10, 2000

Judges are allowed to be objective. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't against the law to weigh a case based on its merrits.

Additionally, current polls/estimates/wild guesses give Nader only a few percentage points of the popular vote. Since he doesn't to appear to have a real chance of winning, I understand the decission to not have hime debate. However, barring him from viewing the debates... well, I hope the CPD gets owned by Nader's lawyer.
posted by Ptrin at 2:22 PM on October 10, 2000

"Since he doesn't to appear to have a real chance of winning, I understand the decission to not have hime debate"

Don't you see the catch-22 of that situation? If you don't have a chance of winning, you can't debate, and unless you debate, no one will vote for you.

The 15% of polls is too high. 1-5% might be a more reasonable number.

BTW, Ross Perot was in the debates in 1992, but sued the commision in 1996 for not being in them.
posted by mathowie at 2:35 PM on October 10, 2000

I think Perot had a good chance of winning in 92 before the debates... But then he had the $$$$ to buy space for his infomercials.
posted by gyc at 2:57 PM on October 10, 2000

I know this topic is about to slide off the front page, and it hasn’t been posted to in awhile, but if anyone reads this:

Nader, last Monday, filed in Federal court against the CPD on the grounds they violated his civil rights. At the NY rally he said something to the effect that they'll never bar him from another debate, and they messed with the wrong candidate.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 9:20 PM on October 16, 2000

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