As President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney closed out the last of their three presidential debates Monday night, candidates representing the Libertarian, Green, Constitution, and Justice parties are set to participate in a Third Party Debate tonight moderated by former CNN anchor Larry King.
Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode, and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson have confirmed their participation in tonight's event, according to the Free and Equal Elections Foundation (FEEF).
The Third Party Debate, organized by the FEEF, takes place at 9 p.m. EDT at the Hilton Chicago and will be carried live by several news outlets, minus the major networks such as CNN, MSNBC or Fox News. In addition to being broadcast live on television by C-SPAN, Al Jazeera English, and Russia Today, the FEEF, Ora TV and Link TV will stream the debate as it happens on the Internet.
"The Free and Equal Elections Foundation has assembled a diverse group of ballot-qualified candidates in order to offer a truly multi-partisan debate for American voters. With sponsoring organizations spanning the ideological spectrum from The Nation to The American Conservative, it is clear that both the left and right in this country agree that the two-party system is broken. Free and Equal's debate will be the type of open, honest, and solutions oriented discussion that the American people deserve," the organization said in a statement on its website.
The nonprofit organization said that it was honored to have Larry King moderate the debate, an event the FEEF calls "historic".
"The previous debates between President Obama and Governor Romney have failed to address the issues that really concern everyday Americans. From foreign policy, to the economy, to taboo subjects like our diminishing civil liberties and the drug war, Americans deserve a real debate, real solutions, and real electoral options," added Christina Tobin, Founder and Chair of the Free and Equal Elections Foundation.
King, who hosts the talk show "Larry King Now" on Hulu.com, called Tuesday night's moderating job exciting and said he appreciated the platform the FEEF was providing candidates.
"I have interviewed every U.S. President since Nixon, and lest people forget, I helped usher Ross Perot into the national conversation during the 1992 presidential contest. I appreciate the importance of providing a platform to those with real alternative visions for our country's future," the former CNN host said in a press release.
Although King has shared that he will not be voting for an independent candidate and that it was "obvious they're not going to win," he still believes it's vital that contenders have a platform to address the American people.
Among the four independent candidates appearing Tuesday night, the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson is the only one who appears on ballots in nearly all 50 states – a feat that King said should have secured the candidate a spot in the three presidential debates with Obama and Romney.
"I would say if you're on the ballot in 40 states, you should be in the debates. And Gary Johnson is, and therefore in my opinion he should have been in these debates. You're on the ballot in 40 states, absolutely," the veteran journalist told Politico in a report published Monday.
King conceded, however, that logistics would be difficult for any network providing a debate platform for every single candidate vying for the presidency.
Johnson had unsuccessfully filed a complaint against the Commission on Presidential Debates in federal court requesting that the commission be forced to included him in the debate.
According to Politico, Johnson's name will be on the ballot in 47 states. The Washington Post suggests that the candidate is a threat to the "Obama-Romney matchup" in Colorado, New Hampshire and Nevada, battleground states "where Johnson could prove a nuisance to his major party competition."
In a report examining the question of whether the Commission on Presidential Debates is unfair to third parties, author and Open Debates Executive Director George Farrah told CBS News that third parties "have played a critical role in raising issues that are critical to the conversation in this country."
"When you exclude them from the debate, you have a sort of ideological containment," he added.
"None of the four candidates are strangers to politics," The Washington Post notes. "Johnson served two terms as governor of New Mexico and pursued the Republican presidential nomination in 2011 before opting for the Libertarian nod. Goode represented a central Virginia district in Congress as a Democrat, independent, and Republican. Anderson was the mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, while Stein ran against Romney in the 2002 Massachusetts governor's race."
Viewers of Tuesday night's first Third Pary Debate will determine through instant runoff voting online which two of the four candidates will face each other in the second debate, scheduled for Oct. 30 in Washington, D.C.
The Free and Equal Elections Foundation is a nonprofit whose goal is to "give every candidate a fair chance at winning their respective elections, but more importantly, allow voters to vote for a candidate that best represents their values and beliefs."
Viewers can tune into www.freeandequal.org/live Tuesday night to watch the Third Party Debate live online. The FEEF has invited voters to submit questions for the candidates through its website at: http://action.freeandequal.org/ask-a-question.