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Gail Collins on Giving Third Party Candidates a Platform

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country we bring you the unmissable quotes from political conversations on WNYC. On The Leonard Lopate Show's weekly series How Did Politics in America Get So Weird?, New York Times columnist Gail Collins laments the inclusion of third party candidates in the recent New York Gubernatorial debate.

New York Times Op-Ed columnist Gail Collins returned to The Leonard Lopate Show for the latest installment of "How Did Politics in America Get So Weird?" First up was Monday's extremely entertaining New York Gubernatorial debate, which featured Andrew Cuomo, Carl Paladino and five additional candidates. No one had a chance to say much, prompting Collins to emphasize that she has "never complained, ever" about the exclusion of third party candidates from debates.

Mainly, if you've got seven people, five of whom no-one has ever heard of and will never hear of again, sitting there on the stage, you can’t expect the public to feel that it’s going to get a fascinating evening of revelation.

Still, given the amount of applause Jimmy McMillan received, it might be fair to say the electorate is united on one front: the rent probably is too damn high.

Collins doesn't see much value in including these third party candidates. In fact, she said she "resents" the presence of some of them at debates, especially the more eccentric ones.

This is not just a New York phenomenon. Most places in the country, particularly places that are awash in, God help us, colorful characters, you have these endless ballots stacked with all these people who are only running to get attention. Who don’t have organizations, who don’t have a following, who just have anything but a hope for five seconds of debate time. I just don’t think we should be encouraging them.

Guess we dropped the ball on that one.

Listen to the entire conversation on The Leonard Lopate Show.

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