The following was previously published on Wikinews as part of the monthly series chronicling the 2016 presidential election
On October 25, theheld a debate on the campus of the in , moderated by actor and Free & Equal founder . This was the organization’s third election cycle hosting a presidential debate. Constitution Party presidential nominee , presidential nominee , and Reform Party presidential nominee all took part in the near two-hour event. Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and Evan McMullin were each invited but did not attend.
“Shame on Jill Stein and Gary Johnson in particular for not coming”, said Castle, reflecting the overall feeling of the three debaters. La Riva described the absences as “a lack of respect for those of us who have fought so hard in this electoral year to have a voice for the people.”
“They are so high and mighty. They want to be Democrats and Republicans so badly,” proclaimed Castle about Johnson and Stein, “They are afraid to come out and get down on the same level with people like us.”
The Libertarian and Green Party presidential nominees also skipped the first Free & Equal Debate in 2008. Then-Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr missed the debate because of a previously scheduled event. Then-Green Party presidential nominee was absent because Free & Equal did not consult with her before scheduling the event. That year, independent presidential candidate and Constitution Party presidential nominee were the only participants.
Castle, who served as Baldwin’s 2008 running mate, previously participated in a Free & Equal vice presidential debate that year, a fact he brought up in his opening statement. Notably, throughout the debate, Castle repeatedly expressed astonishment when he agreed with his “socialist friend” La Riva. However, on the first topic, there was disagreement regarding the . While Castle, who said he would generally support such a pipeline, argued Dakota Access did not cross the , La Riva rebutted the proposed route crosses lands the US government took from the . Moreover, she said the proposed route crosses the and Rivers opening the possibility for contamination. Later in the debate, La Riva and Castle differed substantially on health care. While Castle called for a capitalistic solution, La Riva countered that capitalism was the reason for the health care crisis.
De La Fuente, whom Wikinews interviewed earlier this year, previously ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. During the debate, he touted himself as the “first Hispanic-American to be on the ballot in 20 states.” In focusing on minority issues, he discussed the disproportionate incarceration of minorities for offenses. Asner, who often commented during the course of the debate, wondered whether the discrepancy was the result of economic rather than racial factors. De La Fuente argued it might be contributed to by both.
Unlike Asner, Tobin did not comment much as moderator, but she chimed in on the issue of ballot access. Tobin explained how she received an inquiry regarding ballot access for former Senator, who ran as a Democrat and was considering an independent run for president in 2016. She discovered it would take 900,000 signatures to achieve full ballot access, requiring the collection of 1.6 million signatures with lower range costs of US$7 to US$10 million and high estimates of up to US$20 million. In response, each candidate discussed their experiences with ballot access restrictions. La Riva proposed parties be able to qualify for nationwide ballot access.
Some lighthearted moments included Asner forgetting Castle’s first name, De La Fuente questioning whether an interjection from Asner would count against his time, and Castle upon reaching the end of his time, commenting on the “relentless pressure of this woman [presumably the timekeeper] on the front row [to] stop me.”
In closing, De La Fuente called his two fellow debaters “presidential” and said he “would be proud for them to be my president, and not those two, dumb and dumber, [the major party candidates] who are trying to go for the job.” Asner expressed appreciation to each participant, and declared the candidates “gave this election dignity.”