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Candidates Debate Candidate Monica Moorehead Disrupts Debate Start

October 8, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Presidential debate watchers looking for spontaneous action saw plenty in a third-party match-up when an uninvited candidate disrupted a live telecast to claim her right to speak.

The irony of being shut out of the Monday night debate among candidates who were also snubbed by the two major party nominees wasn’t lost on Monica Moorehead of the Workers World Party.

``I have a right to be heard in this debate. Let me speak. This is a sham,″ she said in breaking up the start of the scheduled 90-minute debate that was broadcast live on C-SPAN.

Ms. Moorehead, whose World Workers Party is on the ballot in 12 states, explained for more than 10 minutes that her White House bid aimed to bring working-class politics to a broad audience.

She said she supported child care and opposed ``corporate greed,″ corporate downsizing and the ``scapegoating of immigrant workers.″

Ms. Moorehead spoke before a table at the National Press Club, where other minor party presidential hopefuls John Hagelin of the Natural Law Party, Harry Browne of the Libertarian Party and Howard Phillips of the U.S. Taxpayers Party waited to begin debating.

After the debate started and Ms. Moorehead left willingly, Phillips said he was ready to debate her anywhere, anytime.

Debate moderator Jennifer Laszlo, a newspaper columnist, explained that only candidates on the ballot in a majority of states were invited, including President Clinton, Republican Bob Dole, Reform Party candidate Ross Perot and the Green Party’s Ralph Nader, all of whom declined to attend.

Rather than challenging one another, the debaters focused on explaining their party platforms and criticising the views of Clinton and Dole. The candidates took turns answering questions from five panelists.

Browne, on every state ballot, described his party as an advocate of individual liberty, personal responsibility and freedom from government. The Libertarian Party platform includes proposals to end the federal income tax, deregulate the health-care industry, privatize Medicare and Medicaid and legalize drugs.

``I’m am not going to tell you that I can manage big government better than Bill Clinton or Ross Perot or Bob Dole can. I’m going to tell you frankly that all I want to do is to reduce it to the absolute minimum possible,″ Browne said.

Hagelin, whose Natural Law Party is on the ballot in 47 states, said he would implement a 50-point action plan in ``an all out assault on America’s problems″ by tapping into the power of science.

``I think the purpose of my party and my candidacy is to really get back to basics, basic solutions to America’s problems that have not had a voice in politics,″ said Hagelin, a 42-year-old physics professor, who advocates transcendental meditation.

Phillips, the U.S. Taxpayers Party candidate on the ballot in about 40 states, said government has acquired more power than assigned to it in the Constitution. He said he stood for abolishing the Internal Revenue Service and capital gains taxes, withdrawing the United States from the United Nations, returning education to the states and ending legal abortion.

``The role of civil government is to be a ministry of justice and a terror to evil doers. Currently, it is a ministry of injustice and a terror to the innocent alone,″ Phillips said.

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