Third Party Presidential Candidates Debate in Cleveland

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The discussion between former Republican Congressman Bob Barr, who is now Libertarian, Independent Ralph Nader and Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin was more commiseration than debate.

This early comment from Barr summed up the objectives of all three.

Barr: "Our Target in this election is to point out to the American people the damage that is being done to our constitution, our economy, our family life our education in this country by the monopoly status quo parties."

And the candidates found other common ground. Nader and Baldwin both want to scap NAFTA and other trade agreements. Barr said he supports deals with other countries, but only when those agreements can be modified in American courts. And like many of his former conservative colleagues in Congress, Barr wants to get rid of federal regulations that set minimum mileage standards for vehicles.

Barr and Baldwin think individuals should be able to opt out of Social Security and Medicare, but Nader balked at the notion of dismantling the social safety nets.

Nader: "What would America's elderly be doing now in this collapsing retirement system, looted and drained by these Wall Street crooks, if they didn't have a social security check?"

All three men said Wall Street bankers and investment brokers should be prosecuted for their roles in the financial crisis, which they called corporate fraud,

Both Obama and McCain supporters worry that Nader and Barr could be the twin spoilers in swing states like Ohio and Florida, where Nader won thousands of Democrats away from Al Gore in 2000. An Ohio Newspaper Poll released two weeks ago doesn't support that fear. It shows Bar with 1 percent and Nader with 2 percent support in Ohio. An average of national polls shows Obama ahead of McCain in Ohio by almost six percent.

Kymberli Hagelberg, 90.3.

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