- The Washington Times - Monday, October 22, 2012

American broadcasters may overlook third-party presidential hopefuls but not Russia Today and Al-Jazeera, which plan to air an alternative U.S. presidential debate on Tuesday that will possibly reaching millions of viewers here and abroad. The independent debate in Chicago showcases the fancy political footwork of Libertarian Gary Johnson, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Constitution Party candidate Virgil H. Goode Jr., and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party. Former CNN host Larry King is the moderator, the Free and Equal Elections Foundation the organizer. Both networks are critical of their U.S. media brethren, among other things.

“The mainstream media’s disregard for this debate is really troubling, when you consider that a third-party candidate — Ross Perot — has influenced the outcome of national election before,” says Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of Russia Today, or “RT” as it’s known elsewhere.

The network broadcasts in English, Arabic and Spanish from studios in Moscow and Washington, D.C., and claims an audience of 550 million viewers worldwide. RT is sternly framing the lack of coverage for the four independents as a “widespread blackout from both the mainstream media and political establishment alike,” suggesting the candidates’ respective platforms have been “largely silenced by the elites of a two-party political system.”

Al-Jazeera, seen by some 260 million households in 100 countries, also has commentary about the third partiers. “In the country that is often claimed to be the greatest democracy in the world, they are all excluded from all of the televised presidential debates,” the network observes.

The debate is being shown Tuesday starting at 9 p.m. online at http://freeandequal.org. A second debate for the independents is in the planning stages, to be staged in the nation’s capital on Oct. 30.

PRESIDENTIAL TRAVELOGUE

It’s a pity that Air Force One is not supersonic. Or capable of warp speed, perhaps. President Obama could use such nimble transportation on Wednesday when his campaign travels take him to Davenport, Iowa; Denver, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. All in the same day. “Campaign events” is on the itinerary, along with an appearance with NBC’s “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno.

The sheer mileage involved is secondary to this number: The election, the moment of truth, the big finale is, essentially, a mere 336 hours away.

BUCKEYE BULL’S-EYE

“All roads to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue lead through Ohio,” says David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “Timing is everything. President Obama has banked an early lead, but Mitt Romney should even the score with his slight edge among likely voters who plan to cast ballots on Election Day.”

That said, here are Mr. Paleologos’ numbers from a survey of 600 Ohio voters released Monday:

Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney are tied at 47 percent each in the Buckeye State. Mr. Romney led his rival 49 percent to 44 percent among those planning to vote on Election Day, while Mr. Obama led 48 percent to 44 percent among those planning to vote beforehand. The president also won, 54 percent to 41 percent, among those who had voted already.

WRIST ACTION

Mitt Romney’s campaign will never match the overwhelming merchandising and commercial branding of President Obama’s re-election campaign, which is probably a good thing. The president’s campaign featured hundreds of splashy, often pricey items for loyal Democrats. The choices for Romney-ites are modest, but effective.

Just introduced by Ann Romney on Monday: inspirational bracelets, in sets of three, in red, white and blue embossed with “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, America Can’t Lose!” They are $10, available through the accessories section in the “Shop” section at Mittromney.com.

THE HISTORIC CAMPAIGN

“The United States is the world’s best hope. But if you fetter her in the interests and quarrels of other nations, if you tangle her in the intrigues of Europe, you will destroy her power for good and endanger her very existence.”

- Henry Cabot Lodge,then-Republican senator from Massachusetts, before the U.S. Senate on Aug. 12, 1919.

LEGAL EAGLES

In the nation’s capital Wednesday for big doings at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Rudolph W. Giuliani and Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, Attorneys General Doug Gansler of Maryland, Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma and Luther Strange of Alabama, Delaware State Court chancellor Leo E. Strine Jr. and ace pollster Scott Rasmussen. The gents join host and Chamber President Thomas Donahue and Lisa Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, for just that: An annual legal reform summit that includes such intriguing topics as “litigation as a profit machine” plus the global reach of litigation, and federal regulatory and prosecution policies.

Mr. Giuliani will weigh in on the election, Mr. Santorum and Mr. Rendell will debate it. Oh yes, there are door prizes for the daylong event. Among them: A 52-inch Sony HD TV, an iPad, an iPhone and a wine basket.

POLL DU JOUR

• 85 percent of U.S. voters will definitely vote for their candidate of choice in the presidential election.

• 84 percent have not voted in the presidential election through early voting, mail-in or absentee vote; 16 percent have already voted.

• 46 percent of all likely voters would vote for President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden if the election were held today; 46 percent would vote for Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan.

• 6 percent don’t know their choice yet, 1 percent would pick an alternative candidate.

• 19 percent describe themselves as moderate Democrats, 19 percent as moderate Republicans; 17 percent say they are strong Democrats, 12 percent as strong Republicans.

• 13 percent are independents, 8 percent lean Democratic, 8 percent lean Republican. 4 percent either don’t know or are “none of these.”

Source: A Reuters/Ipsos poll of 1,253 U.S. voters conducted Oct. 18-22.

Observations and crabby commentary to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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