The People’s Presidential Debate brought presidential candidates Darrell Castle, Rocky De La Fuente and Gloria La Riva to campus Tuesday at Macky Auditorium. At the event, the candidates talked on a number of issues that included the Trans-Pacific Partnership and whistleblowers.
Campaign reform, however, was the topic of the day. The main moderator of the debate, Christina Tobin, founded the Free and Equal Elections Foundation, which organized the debate. Free and Equal’s goal is to add more candidates to elections and alter America’s two-party system.
This topic came through in the last question of the night. The candidates were asked to discuss problems with the election process and some possible solutions. All the candidates agreed that there was a problem getting on the ballot in many states.
Castle, who is on the Constitution Party ticket, said that his main problem was getting on the ballot, noting that a large amount of signatures are usually required. Plus, a good portion of signatures may not be accepted. The candidate said it cost his campaign about $3 per signature, when a six-figure amount of total signatures needed can really add up.
De La Fuente, a candidate associated with the Reform Party, as well as the Delta Party, corroborated Castle’s point that money is what puts nominees on ballots. He said his signatures cost closer to $5, though. He mentioned Colorado’s ballot, which has more than 20 presidential candidates on it, and said that may be a bit too much. De La Fuente poked at the idea of limiting it to 10 candidates.
La Riva, the presidential candidate for the Party of Socialism and Liberation, agreed as well. She said that the ballots should be the same nationally and that candidates shouldn’t have to go state-to-state to get on ballots. She also proposed lowering the number of signatures required to be on the ballot, as well.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, or TPP, which has been a widely debated issue this election cycle, also came up. Once again, all candidates agreed, but for slightly different reasons. Castle and La Riva agreed that the deal is more beneficial to corporations than to the country as a whole. De La Fuente argued about job creation and how the deal would affect American workers.
With Wikileaks releasing new information into the presidential campaign, the candidates were also asked about whistleblowers. Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning were brought up by name. Once again, all the candidates agreed. La Riva asked for Manning to be released from prison and Snowden to no longer face criminal charges.
Castle called Snowden and Manning heroes. Although he wouldn’t necessarily give them acquittals, he did ask for them to be brought home. De La Fuente argued that the whistleblowers protect the American people from the government.
There were moments of disagreement. The three were asked what they would do with Obamacare. De La Fuente said he would try to fix it and go back to the core of principle on which it was crafted. La Riva had her own health plan for free, universal government healthcare. Castle said he didn’t have a plan in place yet, but would take time as president to talk to experts about what to do in place of Obamacare.
The debate was held in conjunction with the United We Stand Festival. At the festival, musical acts performed for the crowd before the debate. Flobots headlined the concert.
In addition to Tobin, actor Ed Asner helped moderate the debate. He gave his thoughts after certain responses to candidates and also made the audience laugh throughout the night.
There were several candidates missing from the stage. Most notably, well-known third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein did not make an appearance. Free and Equal says they were invited.
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Jake Mauff at firstname.lastname@example.org.