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FOX News
Monday , May 24, 2004

WASHINGTON  Another election, another round of complaints about what some say is the stilted, suffocating, two-man presidential debates.

The Citizens Debate Commission, a newly formed group dedicated to abolishing two-party control over presidential debate formats, argues that third-party voices like Ralph Nader would shake up this year's debate and give voters another alternative. The guardian of the status quo, the Commission on Presidential Debates, said if someone wants in, he or she needs poll numbers that make the candidacy look like more than late-night fodder.

The citizens commission said when the major parties control the formats, as they have since 1988, the nation witnesses phony debates where questions are screened, answers are rehashed one-liners from stump speeches and very little is learned.

"It's a bit of a fraud when we say that this is the great debate in which is going to be engaged all the issues of our time, because they're not going to be. On many, many issues in this city, major issues, we have a two-party monopoly, a duopoly," said Patrick Buchanan, who ran as the Reform Party candidate in 2000.

But supporters of the status quo say the debates serve a very useful function, they are not meant to be a chance for candidates to become competitive, but to show why they are competitive.