BY JULIE PERCHA
It’s one of the most memorable, recent examples of a third-party candidacy making an impact: the Nader factor.
In 2000, the race for the White House came down to Florida, pitting Republican George W. Bush against Democrat Al Gore. Ralph Nader, the Green Party nominee, was also running — and polling at the time suggested if Nader weren’t, many of his supporters would’ve switched to Gore.
But Nader did run, winning more than 97,000 votes in Florida, and becoming a “spoiler” who effectively cost Gore the state — and the presidency — according to analysts.
Now, 16 years later, the Green Party’s current presidential nominee, Dr. Jill Stein, is quick to shrug off that “spoiler” comparison.
“We’re in a very different moment now historically than we were in 2000, because the majority of American voters have rejected both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump,” she said to PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff. “They’re the most disliked and untrusted candidates for president in our history.”
Both Clinton and Trump do have upside-down favorability ratings. According to a RealClearPolitics average of national polls, 53.5 percent of Americans view Clinton unfavorably, compared to 43 percent who view her favorably. The spread for Trump is almost three times larger: 62.7 percent of Americans view him unfavorably, compared to 33 percent who see him as favorable.
“The American people are clamoring for another choice. I think before we try to shut down the discussion, it’s really important to let that discussion go forward and let people see,” said Stein.
Stein, who was the party’s nominee in the 2012 election as well, faces tough chances to win the White House: she polls at 3.4 percent nationally — behind Libertarian Gary Johnson at 8.9 percent, Republican Donald Trump at 37.3 percent and Democrat Hillary Clinton at 41.6 percent, according to a Real Clear Politics average of polls.
That’s not enough to qualify her for the presidential debates, which begin in late September — a data point she’s pushing to change.
“Knowing that the majority of Americans [are] unhappy with these two party choices, this is the time for us to open up,” said Stein. “Americans have not only a right to vote, but a right to know who we can vote for. So we’re pushing for opening up the debates. And then let’s see how the chips fall.”
Stein is a physician and advocate who’s twice run for governor of Massachusetts, been a candidate for the Massachusetts House, and made a bid for secretary of the commonwealth. Her only elected offices to date include twice being elected to the Lexington, Massachusetts, Town Meeting.
If elected to the presidency, though, Stein would describe herself as an “organizer-in-chief in the White House,” she said.
She’s hoping to capitalize on momentum from disenfranchised Sen. Bernie Sanders’s supporters, thanks, in part, to her promises of a 100 percent renewable energy plan; a “Medicare-for-all” single-payer health plan; and debt-free higher public education.
“There are 43 million young people who are locked into student debt. Few people think about that. That’s a very powerful force,” she told Woodruff.
“I’d say it’s rushing to judgement to say that this movement is powerless. There is a political revolution that got going strong under Bernie Sanders. It is still going strong.”
Read the full transcript below.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to the 2016 presidential campaign.
The vast amount of attention in this election year, by far, has gone to the two main party nominees for president, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But there are a few third-party candidates competing as well.
Tonight, we hear from the woman who is the nominee of the Green Party for the second election in a row. She is Dr. Jill Stein, and I spoke with her a short time ago.
Dr. Jill Stein, welcome to the “NewsHour.”
JILL STEIN, Green Party Presidential Nominee: Great to be with you, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let me just start by asking you, what is the main difference between what you and the Green Party offer voters from what, say, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have offered?
JILL STEIN: So, maybe the main difference is that I’m the one candidate in the race that is not corrupted by lobbyists’ money, by corporate money, or by super PACs.
So, I’m the one candidate that can really stand up for what it is that the American people are really clamoring for. And that means jobs, an emergency jobs program. We call for the creation of 20 million jobs, to solve the emergency of climate change, and we call for 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2030.
We call for canceling student debt. And, you know, Hillary and Bernie talked about free public higher education going forward, but not dealing with this burden of debt, which has really locked a generation into kind of a hopeless future right now. And we also call for free public higher and health care as…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Free public what? I’m sorry?
JILL STEIN: Free public higher education.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
JILL STEIN: And for health care as a human right.
And I think we differ on foreign policy as well.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me just stop you there with domestic policy, because you said a jobs program, a job for anyone who doesn’t get one in the private sector, the government should provide it, forgiving student loans.
JILL STEIN: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You talk about free child care, free health care, Medicare for all. How much is all that going to cost? How do you pay for it?
JILL STEIN: So, fortunately, most of it pays for itself.
So, for example, providing jobs to transform our economy to the green energy economy of the future, it actually gets rid of what is causing 200,000 premature deaths a year, that is, through fossil fuel. It turns out we get so much healthier when we convert to a green energy economy that our health savings alone are enough to pay for the cost of the energy transition.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it wouldn’t require, say, a tax hike, maybe even a tax hike for those in the middle class?
JILL STEIN: So, the other piece of this is that moving to 100 percent renewable energy means we no longer need and can no longer justify wars for oil, which, mind you, have cost us $6 trillion since 2001, when you include the cost of caring for our wounded soldiers, $6 trillion.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You said wars for oil.
JILL STEIN: That’s right, wars for oils, because we have been fighting these regime change wars, which are not making us safer. In fact, arguably, we are much less safe.
With each new war on terror, we actually have created a new wave of even more difficult terror. So, we call for actually a weapons embargo and freezing the funding of our allies who are sponsoring terrorist enterprises around the world, according to Hillary Clinton’s own leaked e-mails from the secretary’s office.
We will be cutting our military budget, which is one thing we can do when we are 100 percent renewables and heading for it. Enables us to bring hundreds of billions back into true security here in our own economy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I want to ask you about the military as well, because you would cut, you said, the military budget in half. You would close down many, if not all overseas U.S. bases. You said you would cut aid to U.S. — important U.S. allies like Israel, like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
So, do you see the United States pulling back and not really playing a global role?
JILL STEIN: Actually, I see us playing more of a global role and a more impactful global role, because we would have a consistent policy.
It’s not about specifically defunding Israel or Saudi Arabia or Egypt. It’s about having an even-handed policy that says that we as the United States, with all due humility, are asking our allies to turn over a new page, where our foreign policy is based on international law and human rights, and that we will not sponsor the governments of countries or their militaries where they are systematically and, importantly, violating human rights and international law.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, very quickly, if Russia, say, went into Eastern Europe, would the U.S. respond, if you were president?
JILL STEIN: You know, the laws of war right now say that we can respond when our country is threatened. That is what international law says.
So, we would need to establish that there is actually imminent danger to the United States. I think…
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, North Korea going into South Korea, the same thing. If that’s not imminent danger to the United States, then the U.S. wouldn’t necessarily…
JILL STEIN: Well, what we would be doing is trying to preempt these conflicts before they occur through a vigorous policy of engagement.
So, we would be sitting down to negotiate, to actually reduce conflict on the Korean Peninsula right now, because there’s never really been a cease-fire. Or there’s been a cease-fire, but there hasn’t been a formal cessation of the war on the Korean Peninsula.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s right.
Jill Stein, I also want to ask you about — as you know, your campaign has drawn parallels with Ralph Nader in 2000. Virtually everybody who has researched that election says that Ralph Nader, who got over, what, 97,000 votes in the state of Florida, cost Al Gore the state. Al Gore lost the state by 537 votes.
So, my question is, if this race gets close, why isn’t it safe to assume that you’re prepared to see Hillary Clinton lose to Donald Trump, because most of your votes would come from Hillary Clinton?
JILL STEIN: Well, I think it remains to be seen where our votes would come from.
Remember, the majority of Donald Trump supporters don’t actually support him. They’re mainly motivated by not liking Hillary Clinton. So how about we give those dissatisfied Clinton opponents someone else that they can vote for?
In fact, many of Bernie Sanders’ supporters — let me put this another way. Many Trump supporters used to be Sanders supporters, and when Sanders was wiped out, they moved over to Trump.
So, we’re trying to bring in the majority of Americans. We’re in a very different moment now historically than we were in 2000, because the majority of American voters have rejected both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They’re the most disliked and untrusted candidates for president in our history.
And the American people are clamoring for another choice. I think before we try to shut down the discussion, it’s really important, you know, to let that discussion go forward and let people see. I think, in America…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me just ask you this. You have made it clear you think both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would be terrible presidents for the country. So, are you saying literally that Hillary Clinton is every bit as bad for the country as Donald Trump, that there’s no difference?
JILL STEIN: I wouldn’t say there are no differences, but the differences are not enough to save your job.
We feel that, in this election, we’re not just deciding what kind of a world we’re going to have, but whether we’re going to have a world or not going forward. And knowing that the majority of Americans is unhappy with those two party choices, this is the time for us to open up.
So we’re pushing for opening up the debates. And then let’s see how the chips fall.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Dr. Jill Stein with the Green Party, we thank you.
JILL STEIN: Thank you, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can watch our extended Facebook Live interview with Dr. Stein online. She answers your questions on Syria, vaccines, and the Black Lives Matter movement. That’s on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/NewsHour.
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