- The Washington Times - Friday, September 16, 2016

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Friday it has invited Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump to participate in the first debate on Sept. 26 — but not Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who failed to meet the polling threshold required to receive invitations.

The commission’s board of directors met Friday to apply the criteria used to determine the invitations — rules that were announced in October 2015.

The commission said all four candidates satisfied the requirements that they are constitutionally eligible to hold the office of president and have achieved ballot access in enough states to theoretically win the 270 electoral college votes needed to secure a majority.

But candidates also have to achieve at least 15 percent support in an average of five recent national polls, which is where Mr. Johnson and Ms. Stein fell short.

The board determined that those averages put Mrs. Clinton at 43 percent, Mr. Trump at 40.4 percent, Mr. Johnson at 8.4 percent and Ms. Stein at 3.2 percent.

“Accordingly, Hillary Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, and Donald Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, qualify to participate in the September 26 presidential debate and the October 4 vice-presidential debate, respectively,” read a statement posted to the commission’s website. “No other candidates satisfied the criteria for inclusion in the September 26 and October 4 debates.”

The statement said the criteria will be reapplied to all candidates before the second and third presidential debates.

Mr. Johnson said in a statement that the “monopoly on debates” created by the commission is a prime example of a rigged system, but said he plans to make it on the stage next month.

“There are more polls and more debates, and we plan to be on the debate stage in October,” he said.

The first presidential debate is to take place on Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

The single vice presidential debate is scheduled to take place Oct. 4 at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.

The second presidential debate is to take place Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis, in Missouri, and the third and final one is to take place Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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