How the Green Party plans to compete in 2016

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Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein arrives at a rally of Bernie Sanders's supporters on the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., July 26, 2016. Picture taken July 26, 2016. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter - RTSKQJS

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HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS ANCHOR: The Green Party wrapped up its national convention in Houston last night, confirming that Jill Stein will be their presidential nominee this November. In her speech, Stein thanked those Bernie Sanders who had come over to her campaign, while challenging those who had not.

JILL STEIN, GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: And while the powers that be want to reassure us that resistance is futile and that we should just go home and lie down on the railroad tracks right now in front of climate change, in front of expanding wars, in front of the prison state and mass incarceration, in front of nuclear weapons, where we are now engaged in a whole new arms nuclear race. They’re telling us to just forget about it. Trust the powers that be that got us into this mess.

We say no thank you. We are standing up, this is our moment.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The Real Clear Politics national average of polls for the general election has Stein in fourth place with just four percent support. But that hasn’t prevented her party from trying to have an impact. Joining us now from Washington, D.C. is NPR’s Jessica Taylor, who has been covering the Green Party convention. Thanks for joining us.

So, how much of the Green Party convention was about Green Party, and how much of it was about trying to lure Bernie Sanders supporters?

JESSICA TAYLOR, NPR: Well, I think for the first few days at least, I think I heard Bernie Sanders’s name mentioned more than Jill Stein’s. They made very explicit pleas to Bernie Sanders supporters to come and join them. Saying that these things that Bernie supported, that we have been for all along. Not taking corporate money, free college, some of the foreign policy programs and things, too, their foreign policy approach. So, this was really sort of definitely reaching out to them.

And they saw a lot of increased numbers at this particular convention. Organizers told me they initially expected about 250 people. Over the past month, that almost doubled to almost 500 people that they saw. And they really attribute that to Sanders dropping out, and then the whole hubbub that happened at the DNC with some of his backers walking out there in Philadelphia and protesting in the streets.

And I talked to many, many Sanders supporters that were there, and they all said we believe in Bernie and this revolution that he wanted, it lives on. And they really thought that now they could find a home in the Green Party.

HARI SREENIVASAN: So what’s the strategy going forward? Knowing she’s about four percent and even going to maybe five or seven or 10 percent by election day. Are they also going out in kind of down-ballot races?

JESSICA TAYLOR: Yeah, there was a really heavy emphasis too on down-ballot races there. They had candidates for Senate, for even some local races. And you know, that’s where the party has had some successes, in places like mayoral races or local county board races. They haven’t had major successes on a federal level or even a statewide level. So, I think they’re hoping if they get these Sanders supporters to mobilize, maybe not nationally but in a local way, that that could have a impact.

But you know, there was a poll that came out that had her at 6 percent. But she’s still trailing even libertarian Gary Johnson, who registers over 10 percent in some polls. And I asked her about this yesterday when I was talking with her, and Dr. Stein said we haven’t gotten any of the exposure that the other candidates have, even to a extent Gary Johnson has. And she said as people learn more about our message, they will come to us. That’s their hope.

HARI SREENIVASAN: What were the core issues of the platform that people agreed on?

JESSICA TAYLOR: They take in sort of all manners, I think, of progressivism. And they talked — a lot was anti-interventionist foreign policy, definitely an environmental platform, social and economic and equality. So you heard sort of all of this.

And I think there was some discord there too sort of over the future of the party. It was largely white attendance there. You got some more diversity that they are trying to bring in. And that even brought some conflict, too. There was one candidate that was opposing Dr. Stein for the nomination, and she rose up and said that she believed that the party needs to be more diverse and not be represented by a white woman. She said that she was a black Muslim woman, and that she could better represent the party going forward.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Jessica Taylor of NPR joining us from Washington. Thanks so much.

JESSICA TAYLOR: Thanks so much.

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