On December 15th Fred Karger and governor’s Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer participated in a debate on Wepolls.com, a social polling network. This was the first ever debate to take place on a social polling site, and only the second social media debate in history.
The candidates answered poll questions posed to them by
Republican primary voters from a wide variety of topics.
Karger and Roemer have been excluded from every nationally televised debate. Johnson has been excluded from all but two. It’s not surprising that they have strong feelings on the subject.
When asked if it’s fair that Johnson was excluded when after he has been polling on par with Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman, it’s no surprise that the former two term New Mexico governor responded with a resounding no.
“I don't begrudge anyone the opportunity to be included,” Johnson said. And he put the blame squarely on the media. “The notion of drawing lines between candidates who are all polling within margins of error is fundamentally wrong -- especially when it is the media debate sponsors doing the polling,” adding that the voters should decide which candidates are or are not credible.
In a related question, Johnson remarked that he would be a viable candidate to win the Republican nomination if not for the current media blackout that his campaign faces.
Karger responded that “everyone should be included” in the debates. “Just let me in one debate that's all I ask,” Karger said. “I will change the debate and hope to excite the country. I have so many ideas to help turn this country around.” He also added that he feels that his homosexuality is the primary reason for his exclusion from the debates.
In an eloquent fashion, Roemer let his feeling about the televised debates be known “These debates are a circus,” he answered. “I feel sad for retail politics. It's all about selling books and being a regular cable news contributor.”
Being the first open homosexual to run for president of in a major party didn’t go unnoticed by the voters at the debate. One such voter, Joey Husk, told Karger he inspires many in the gay community to never to give up, including himself. Johnson, a supporter of civil rights, cheered the comment.
Karger also acknowledged that he has faced hostility from within his own party with regards to his sexual orientation, adding that he has received, “far more equal treatment and acceptance that I had ever imagined. Hope to make change from within.”
The toughest question of the night was pointed at Karger, who received a PolitiFact rating of “pants on fire” for a statement he made about Mitt Romney, saying he had to do basically whatever the Church of Latter Day Saints asked of him. Not only did Karger stand by his statement, but added, “It's called obedience and is practiced by every Mormon in good standing.”
For Roemer, the defining issue at the Wepolls debate was how politicians pay for their campaigns. “If I were in the debates, I would pose the one question worth asking: Where do you get your money?” Saying that that politicians, work for the people who fund their campaigns, specifically citing Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and their Super PACs. “This election is about trust, and frankly I don't trust any of the other candidates to do for the American people what they say they will.”
The only candidate to answer a question about faith, when asked about intelligent design Roemer responded that if belongs in religion class while evolution belongs in science class.
Roemer was also the only one to answer a question about energy. When asked about which is the fuel of the future, he responded “natural gas,” saying, “We have the technology to safely drill for natural gas in America… we will begin to release ourselves from the grip of foreign oil.” He went on to add that it’s a national security issue.
Johnson perhaps had the best line of the night, just as in his last televised debate with his “my neighbor’s two dogs” comment. When asked about what kind of industrial policy he would support he responded, “A Butt THE HELL OUT Policy,” which received overwhelming support from voters.
Another popular position popular with the crowd was Johnson’s opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), saying, “The Internet must be free from government efforts to regulate, police and/or tax it.”
He also wasn’t afraid to stand up for his support of a woman’s right to choose. When asked about an interview he did with Alex Jones where he was challenged on that stance, Johnson was quick to remind the audience that anyone who heard the interview knows that he brought the fight to Jones.
The libertarian leanings of Johnson are well known. He acknowledged Roemer’s classification of him as fitting well into that category, but when asked if he would seek the nomination of the Libertarian Party, he would only say that he’s considering it, and what’s most important to him is that the message isn’t being heard by the American people.
When asked about a potential third party run, Roemer said, “I have already made public that I am looking at Americans Elect.” The organization requires that his running mate be a Democrat or independent. Roemer had publically expressed interest in Sen. Joe Lieberman for that position, but Lieberman declined. Roemer added that he’s a proud Republican, but an even prouder American.
Occupy and Protests
One point where all candidates agreed was on the subject of protests around the world. TIME made the protester the person of the year, and all three debate participants agree with that decision, saying the protesters are “changing the course of history.”
Roemer reminisced on his time marching for civil rights and drew parallels between the ‘occupy’ movement and Vietnam protests. Karger added that the occupiers have a “very legitimate case” and urged them to continue peacefully.
Debt and Spending
Reduction of federal spending emerged as a priority for all three candidates, though each said they would take a different approach. Johnson, who vetoed 750 bills as governor of New Mexico, would use his veto power to keep Congress in check, and reaffirmed his pledge to balance the budget and reduce spending by 43 percent
The approach that Roemer would take is to address social security, one of the most costly federal programs, by increasing the retirement age one month for 24 years. Karger added that he would run government more like a small business.
A Valuable Message
Not everyone who participated in the Wepolls debate had a deep understanding of these three candidates, but they overwhelmingly walked away with the same thought, that voters are being denied important and diverse voices that the American people deserve to hear.
Karger, Johnson, and Roemer each bring unique messages to the table, and each debate without them is cheaper for their absence.
· To view the full content of Fred Karger’s debate participation, click here
· To view the full content of Gary Johnson’s debate participation, click here
· To view the full content of Buddy Roemer’s debate participation, click here