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Stein and Johnson do their best to interrupt the Trump and Clinton show

In a contest as nasty and, at times, downright strange as the current U.S. election, it's easy to forget there are more than two candidates vying for the presidency. This election is, for all intents and purposes, a fight between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but two other candidates are doing their best to make their voices heard above the din.

A look at the Greens and Libertarians and some of their controversial campaign promises

Presidential candidate Jill Stein says the Green Party is the one national party that isn't 'corrupted by corporate money.' (REUTERS)
In a contest as nasty and, at times, downright strange as the current U.S. election, it's easy to forget there are more than two candidates vying for the presidency.

This election is, for all intents and purposes, a fight between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, but two other candidates are doing their best to make their voices heard above the din.

This week, Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein enjoyed a moment in the spotlight as she took part in a nationally televised town hall meeting on CNN.

"The unique thing about the Green Party is that we are the one national party that is not corrupted by corporate money," Stein told the audience as she took questions on her party and its policies.

Green promises

The Greens lean left and advocate higher taxes on the wealthy, a much smaller defence budget and the closure of most U.S. military bases overseas.

The party opposes nuclear power and genetically modified food, and wants  an independent inquiry into the possible role of the U.S. government in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The Green Party has been polling in the low single digits but hopes to lure disenchanted Democrats, particularly those Bernie Sanders supporters who can't bring themselves to vote for Clinton.
The Green Party hopes to win the support of Bernie Sanders supporters who aren't fans of Hillary Clinton. (John Minchillo/Associated Press)

Clinton supporters argue a vote for the Greens is a vote for Donald Trump.

Many Democrats still blame the Greens for their party's narrow loss in the 2000 election.

Green candidate Ralph Nader took less than three per cent of the popular vote, but in a tight race between Al Gore and George W. Bush, many Democrats felt he handed victory to the Republicans.
Palm Beach County, Fla., election workers and observers examine a questionable ballot during a full hand-count of 460,000 ballots following the 2000 election. (Reuters)

Stein was asked during the town hall meeting whether she worried her campaign could lead to a Trump presidency. Her answer echoed those of Green Party supporters back in the 2000 race who argued there's little difference between the two major parties.

"I will have trouble sleeping at night if Donald Trump is elected," Stein said. "I will also have trouble sleeping at night if Hillary Clinton is elected."

Libertarian platform

Stein isn't the only hopeful trying to break into this two-horse race. Gary Johnson and his Libertarian Party have been making a spirited pitch to voters who don't like Trump or Clinton.

Like the Greens, the Libertarian platform has some controversial clauses, including a pledge to legalize narcotics and make abortion strictly a matter of personal choice with no say from government.

The party would also eliminate income tax, close down the Internal Revenue Service and scrap the social security system.
Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson hopes to participate in the presidential debates. (Reuters)

CNN held a televised town hall meeting for Johnson and his running mate Bill Weld back in June. Both men are former governors and former Republicans. Their poll numbers have been hovering at around 10 per cent, though some surveys have put them slightly higher.

Johnson won just under one per cent of the popular vote when he ran as the Libertarian candidate in 2012. It was the party's best ever result.

For Libertarians, the goal now is to get their candidate's poll numbers up to 15 per cent to secure a spot in this year's presidential debates.

"We would not be doing this if there weren't the opportunity to actually win," Johnson said recently in Washington. "But the only opportunity we have of winning is to be in the presidential debates."

For now, neither the Greens nor the Libertarians have a realistic chance of winning the White House in November. But in this election, when neither of the two main candidates enjoy high approval ratings, voters might be more willing to kick the tires of other parties.

And if enough decide they like what they see and the race is tight, it could have an impact on which of the big-name rivals becomes the world's most powerful leader.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her Republican rival Donald Trump have been facing off in a nasty and often bizarre campaign for the Oval Office. (Associated Press photos)
 

About the Author

Tom Parry

Senior Reporter

Tom Parry is a senior reporter for CBC News on Parliament Hill. He has been with the CBC since 1990 and has been based in Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Vancouver, Regina, Toronto and London, England.

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