CDC Logo


Open Debates

February 12, 2004

Contact: Chris Shaw (202) 628-9195

Washington, DC -- "Lincoln's birthday provides an opportunity to remember that 145 years ago a legendary series of debates were held -- the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. Times have changed; contemporary presidential debates sponsored by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates have failed to adequately serve voters' interests. Presidential candidates Sen. John Edwards, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and Rev. Al Sharpton all support reforming the presidential debates through the establishment of a nonpartisan Citizens' Debate Commission." said Open Debates' Executive Director George Farah.

Rep. Kucinich believes that: "By establishing a Citizens' Debate Commission to replace the Commission on Presidential Debates, the American public can once again see presidential debates that are rigorous, fair, and inclusive of important issues and all popular candidates."

Rev. Sharpton has stated: "Presidential debates should be held by impartial entities."

The three Democratic candidates want authentic presidential debates that address voters' concerns. "That's what we need," said Sen. Edwards. "Absolutely. I support it."

Farah commends "presidential candidates who support the American people's right to open and honest presidential debates through the formation of a Citizens' Debate Commission."

Seventeen national civic leaders have stepped forward to form such a Citizens' Debate Commission.

This new Citizens' Debate Commission will operate with full transparency and sponsor debates that address pressing national issues, feature innovative formats, and include the candidates the American people want to see.

The Citizens' Debate Commission members are John B. Anderson, former U.S. Congressman and chair of Center for Voting and Democracy; Angela "Bay" Buchanan, president of The American Cause; Veronica de la Garza, executive director of the Youth Vote Coalition; Norman Dean, executive director of Friends of the Earth; George Farah, executive director of Open Debates and author of the forthcoming book No Debate; Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch; Tom Gerety, executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice; Jehmu Greene, executive director of Rock the Vote; Ambassador Alan Keyes; Jeff Milchen, executive director of; Larry Noble, former General Counsel of the Federal Election Commission; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Chellie Pingree, president of Common Cause; Randall Robinson, author and founder of TransAfrica Forum; Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform; Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research; Paul Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation.