Sunday, January 13, 2008

Green Party presidential debate coverage

The Green Party presidential debate in San Francisco - January 13
The Green Party presidential debate was earlier today. I wasn't there, and I'm looking forward to seeing the video, which isn't available yet. Above is a photo that was posted online. The story excerpted below, from the San Fransisco Chronicle, says that Nader came late and did not participate in the debate, but addressed the crowd separately. He still has not formally entered the race, although his name will appear on the primary ballot in California.

Green Party presidential hopefuls debate in SF
About 800 people of varying age groups, economic backgrounds and political parties attended the "Presidential Debate that Matters" at the Herbst Theatre where the five Green presidential hopefuls spent more time agreeing with one another than actually debating.

"We're not so much against each other as we are for each other," said one of the candidates, Kent Mesplay, an environmental engineer who also ran for the Green Party nomination in 2004. "We have to be, because by no means is (the two-party system) a level playing field."

The nearly three-hour event was co-moderated by "Peace Mom" Cindy Sheehan and KPFA radio host Aimee Allison, who allowed the candidates timed answers to questions about the war in Iraq, illegal immigration, the farm bill and healthcare, among other subjects.

Nearly every answer was greeted with nods of agreement from the other candidates waiting their turns and by roars of applause from the audience, giving the forum a pep rally feeling.

Bay Area Green Party elected-officials including Richmond Mayor Gayle McLauglin, San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and San Francisco Board of Education member Mark Sanchez also took to the podium, urging the crowd to see the Green Party as the most progressive political option and not as a wasted vote.

"Please. This is serious. This is not a joke. This is about starting a real movement in this country," said candidate Cynthia McKinney to a standing ovation.

The former Democratic congresswoman from Georgia who converted to the Green Party last year was, at one point during the debate, acknowledged as the frontrunner. The party's presidential nominee will be selected in July in Chicago.

The other three candidates included Jared Ball, a hip-hop scholar and assistant professor of communications at Morgan State University in Baltimore; Kat Swift, a 34-year-old dread-locked activist from San Antonio who said she will "be just old enough to be president by the time of the next election"; and actor and filmmaker Jesse Johnson from West Virginia, who is still dealing with a technicality in his home state's law that has kept him from making his candidacy official.


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