Reform America Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 29, 2000
CONTACT: Thomas Bryer, 301-581-0351, [email protected]
Hundreds Rally outside the Commission on Presidential Debates
An All-Party Rally for a True Democracy
Washington, DC -- Reform America, an all-partisan non-profit organization devoted to developing the leadership skills of young Americans while engaging them and their peers in democratic reform movements, coordinated an all-party rally for multi-candidate presidential debates this past Thursday, September 28.
The rally drew a crowd of 100+ individuals in the middle of the afternoon for a 2-hour rally outside the Commission on Presidential Debates, 1200 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC.
Tom Bryer, Executive Director of Reform America, summed up the spirit of the all-party event in his opening remarks. "We are here today for every American citizen. We are here today for every voter, every non-voter! We are Green Party, Libertarian Party, Natural Law Party, Reform Party, Constitution Party, Socialist Party … and yes, I believe we even have a Democrat and Republican hiding somewhere in the crowd."
Other speakers included party leaders from the major third parties, plus American University Law Professor Jamin Rakin and The Nation essayist Christopher Hitchens. CNN covered the event.
The Commission on Presidential debates has set a standard that a candidate show 15% support averaged across five national news media organization polls to be included in the debates. Commission spokesman John Scardino has stated that the 15 percent bar is necessary, so voters can watch those candidates who have a realistic chance of winning meet face-to-face on the stage. "It's not our role to help boost anyone's campaign," he said.
"He's right," Bryer has responded. "It's not the commission's role to boost anyone's campaign. That is exactly what they are doing, though, by hampering the campaigns and muting the voices of these third party candidates. They are boosting the campaigns of the Democrat and Republican candidates by ensuring lower turnout at the polls and less competition in the debates."
In 1992 ninety-two million people watched the debates when Ross Perot was included; in 1996 when Perot was excluded that number dropped to 40 million and voter turnout also fell by a significant margin.
More rallies and protests are planned in the DC area and at the debate sites, starting in Boston on October 3.
Reform America, Inc.