Syracuse’s Howie Hawkins, shut out of presidential debate, to protest in Cleveland
Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for president, will be in Cleveland tonight for the first presidential debate of the 2020 campaign. But don’t look for him on stage next to President Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
Instead, Hawkins, 67, of Syracuse, plans to stand outside Case Western Reserve University to protest his exclusion from the debate along with other third-party candidates.
By Mark Weiner
September 29, 2020
The Syracuse activist, making his 25th campaign for public office, said the Green Party is focused on issues that are unlikely to be addressed by Trump or Biden in their 90-minute debate.
"We should be included because we believe we have real answers to life-and-death issues," Hawkins said as he drove Tuesday in his Hyundai Elantra from Syracuse to Ohio. "We think we have things to offer to the discussion."
Hawkins said the urgent issues boil down to three key areas: Saving the planet from climate change, stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and confronting racism and inequality. He said those topics will certainly not come up in a campaign that's dominated more by personalities than substantive issues.
The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates sets the criteria to determine who qualifies for the debates.
Hawkins said he met one requirement – to appear on enough state ballots to have a mathematical chance of securing at least 270 Electoral College votes, the number needed to win a presidential election.
He is on the ballot in 30 states, representing 73% of American voters and 381 electoral votes.
But the commission also requires presidential candidates to have the support of at least 15% of the national electorate, as determined by five national public polling organizations.
Hawkins was favored by 3% of likely voters nationwide in a Washington Post-ABC News poll published Sunday.
Hawkins said the rules effectively block third-party candidates like himself and Libertarian Party nominee Jo Jorgensen from taking part in the debates.
"They say you're not high enough in polls," Hawkins said. "But the problem is we're not high enough in the polls because nobody else will give us that kind of national exposure. It's like the chicken or the egg."
After attending protest rallies for Black lives and climate justice before Tuesday's debate, Hawkins said, he plans to watch Trump and Biden on a TV in his hotel room.
After the debate, Hawkins will offer his response in a video livestreamed at 11 p.m. Tuesday on his Facebook page.