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CBS News
Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The nonpartisan Citizens' Debate Commission,, announced sites and dates for a series of proposed 2004 general election debates on Monday. In theory these debates will be more inclusive and will allow a platform where third party and independent candidates can participate.

George Farah, the Executive Director of Open Debates, tells CBS News the debates are an effort to “let the American people see who they want to see without drowning out the voices of the leading contenders of the presidency.”

Pat Buchanan and John Anderson, two men who have felt excluded from big debates over the years, were also on hand to unveil the six colleges selected for the five presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate:

  • Capital University, in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday, September 22.
  • Swarthmore College, in Swarthmore, Penn., on Tuesday, September 28.
  • Canisius College in Buffalo, on Sunday, October 3.
  • Willamette University in Salem, Ore., on Thursday, October 7 (Vice-Presidential Debate)
  • Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., on Monday, October 11.
  • Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Friday, October 15.

The commission has already called on George W. Bush and John Kerry to participate, but the door is still open for others. In order to qualify, the candidate needs to be on enough state ballots to win the electoral college or needs to be polling at or better than five percent nationally.

“It's about time somebody challenged the Commission on Presidential Debates and the rigid rules and formats they follow at the behest of the Democratic and Republican parties. One can only hope that Open Debates and the Citizens' Debate Commission will be successful in luring potential candidates to take part in unencumbered and free flowing debate,” concluded Robert Asman, television special events producer and executive producer of the Commission on Presidential Debates' 1996 presidential debates.

So far no answer from the Bush or Kerry camps. Nader pushed these debates in his meeting with Kerry last week.