3rd party candidates talk pot, green cards and free college in Chicago debate

October 23, 2012

Free college. Legalizing marijuana. A "near-moratorium" on green card admissions to the U.S.

The problems facing the nation may be the same, but the solutions proposed by several third party presidential candidates at a Chicago debate Tuesday night likely aren't the ones coming from Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney

Four third-partiers took part in the debate, moderated by Larry King and hosted by Free & Equal Elections, a Chicago-based nonprofit that says it's dedicated to a "fair and open" electoral process.

There was was near-unanimous agreement on some issues, like this one addressed by Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson: "So let’s legalize marijuana now!" he said, to applause.

But Virgil Goode with the conservative Constitution Party disagreed on the drug legalization question. Instead, he stuck to expounding on how he'd fix the economy.

"I am the only candidate that has called for a near complete moratorium on green card admissions to the United States until unemployment is under five percent," Goode said to a mostly silent crowd, save for one man who clapped enthusiastically.

Meanwhile, Green Party candidate Jill Stein put forth her own idea on how to make college affordable.

"I think it’s time to make public higher education free, as it should be," she said to raucous applause.

One thing all the third party candidates seem to share is a distrust for established political systems, big-money politics and both Democrats and Republicans.

"Both of them have morphed into a militarist, corporatist, anti-democratic force," said Rocky Anderson, with the liberal Justice Party.

Of the four, only the Green and Libertarian presidential candidates have secured places on the Illinois ballot.