Third-party presidential candidates take stage at CU Boulder

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Debate006-M.jpgTuesday night was for presidential candidates you probably aren't familiar with, because they haven't had their faces plastered across CNN, MSNBC and Fox News for the past two years.

"Right now, most of our candidates are chosen by the corporate media," said Lauren Brilliante, spokeswoman for Free and Equal Elections Foundation.

The organization held a "Presidential Debate for the People" on Tuesday evening with actor Ed Anser moderating as a way to bring some attention to third-party candidates.

"I'm honored to be here at this assemblage to talk about the freedom and peace this country seeks or says it seeks but has not delivered on," Asner said as he took to the stage.

The debate happened at Macky Auditorium — which was mostly empty on Tuesday night — but organizers were streaming it online and hoping to reach people that way, claiming 60,000 people had viewed it as of 9:20 p.m.

Three candidates participated — Constitution Party candidate Darrell Castle, Party for Socialism and Liberation candidate Gloria La Riva and Reform Party and American Delta Party candidate Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente.

De La Fuente is a businessman who says he will create jobs. La Riva is running as a socialist because of her views on income inequality. Castle believes in severely limiting political power, which he says is in the spirit of the Founding Fathers.

As they fielded questions about the Dakota Access Pipeline, WikiLeaks and student debt, among other topics, and they allowed each other to speak and didn't lob insults — something that had become commonplace during the debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

They brought their respective visions to the podium, a general distaste for the status quo and a sense that the elections are not run fairly and need to be reformed.

Organizers have held similar debates in years past because of the belief that the election system and the way the debates are set up are rigged, and the "mainstream media" are in the on the fix.

"In order for us to bring about real change, we have to start right her in this room, locally," said FEEF founder Christina Tobin, who also moderated. "The moment you give up you become a part of the problem."

The organization reached out to candidates who have a chance of getting 15 percent of the votes, Brilliante said, which means the most obscure candidates — people like Joe Exotic, a mullet-wearing gay zookeeper — likely didn't get a call.

Brilliante said that Gary Johnson and Jill Stein — probably the most well known of the third-party candidates — had initially expressed an interest in coming to the debate, but decided against it. FEEF also reached out to Clinton and Trump.

The organization also put on a "United We Stand Festival" at the University of Colorado on Tuesday afternoon prior to the debate, featuring numerous musicians and performers such as Denver-based Flobots and Ky-Mani Marley, though it was sparsely attended.

Brilliante said the festival before the debate was meant to garner attention from the millennials crowd, which is an important voting block whose participation in politics is essential to solving the problems facing the country.

"There's a lot of positive messages from the performers," Brilliante said. "There's some political messages too, from some of them, but a lot of positive messages."

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