Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein participated in a CNN town hall on Wednesday, encouraging voters to select the candidate most reflective of their values, not the one they think will win. Photo courtesy Jill Stein campaign
NEW YORK, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein encouraged a national television audience to "reject" voting for Hillary Clinton as "the lesser evil" and embrace a liberal agenda for the country.
Stein offered criticism of both major party nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but when pressed by a voter during a CNN town hall on Wednesday, she said both candidates would cause her to "lose sleep at night" if they're elected.
An audience questioner asked Stein whether how she could reconcile potentially diverting votes from Clinton in her quest to defeat Trump, considering it would be nearly impossible for Stein to mount a credible challenge for the White House. Most opinion polls show her tracking in the low single digits.
"I will have trouble sleeping at night if Donald Trump is elected. I will also have trouble sleeping at night if Hillary Clinton is elected," Stein said. "Donald Trump bashes immigrants and is a xenophobic, racist blowhard. But Hillary Clinton has supported these wars that have killed a million black and brown people in Iraq, for example. ... As disturbing as Donald Trump's words are, I find Hillary Clinton's track record very much of concern, too."
Stein is a Harvard-educated physician who no longer practices medicine. She has been a political and environmental activist who also ran for president on the Green ticket in 2012. She was joined at the town hall by her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, a human rights scholar and activist.
Stein appealed to former supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, younger, more liberal voters, who she said would find agreement in both policy and tone more with the Green Party than with Clinton's mainstream, centrist approach as a Democrat.
"What I have to say is you've learned in real time why it is you can't have a revolutionary campaign in a counter-revolutionary party. Bernie did everything right and his supporters did everything right, but the playing field was tipped unfairly against you," Stein told a Sanders supporter.
She went on to criticize Clinton for picking Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, regarded by many as a centrist figure rather than a liberal and for campaigning to win over disaffected Republicans rather than those on the left.
Moderator Chris Cuomo confronted Baraka over controversial comments he made, referring to President Barack Obama as an "Uncle Tom."
Baraka said the comment was meant to "shock" black people into taking a more critical look at Obama's policies, which he said have not helped people of color.
"I know people had a tremendous amount of hopes and dreams for Barack Obama. He did not live up to those. My responsibility is to call it as I see it," he said.
Stein and Baraka addressed several other topics in the town hall, which ran for over an hour. Here are some of the excerpts:
-- On the influence of money in politics: "We are the one national party that is not corrupted by corporate money, by lobbyist money and super PACs," Stein said.
"My motivation is that this is a critical moment and we have an opportunity to do something really different. The Green Party is the only vehicle we have right now that can offer a real alternative," Baraka said.
-- Stein, on whether they will reach the 15 percent polling threshold set by the Commission on Presidential Debates for participation: "This is not going to get decided in a court of law. I think this is going to get decided in the court of public opinion. The Commission on Presidential Debates is not just an ordinary public interest commission. It is a private corporation that is run of, by and for the Democratic and Republican parties. The League of Women Voters quit the commission ... saying it was a fraud."
-- Stein, on Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state: "Part of the problem of Hillary's abuse of the rules, she was sort of too big to jail on the rules. She violated those rules with a sense of impunity. She stated herself she wanted her private information private."
-- Baraka on allegations Trump is stoking racism with campaign rhetoric: "It has really harmed the possibility of democracy here in this country. When you have someone like Donald Trump and the dark forces he is appealing to, it is only going to deteriorate the democratic practice and process. He is appealing to a social base that is prepared to continue to embrace some of the darker side of humanity. His appeal to folks who embrace xenophobia, racism, his bigotry around religion, the unfortunate reality is has resonated to some in our society."
-- Stein, on ending U.S. militaristic interventions in the Middle East and the fight against the Islamic State: "There are international rules, that if you're going to attack another country, you need to be in imminent threat of being attacked by them. Clearly, that threshold has not been met. We have a track record now of fighting terrorism and this track record is not looking so good. We have spent $6 trillion according to a recent Harvard study ... since 2001. We have killed a million people in Iraq alone. That is not winning us the hearts and minds in the Middle East. We have lost tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers who have been killed or severely wounded. And what do we have to show for this? Failed states, mass refugee migrations and repeated terrorist threats that get worse each cycle."
-- Stein on reports she opposed child vaccinations as a medical professional: "That statement about the schedule was taken out of context. There were concerns at the time about the mercury dose in vaccines and how kids might be loaded up, in a way. That's what I was referring to, that there were legitimate concerns at the time. There is no longer an issue. The idea that I oppose vaccines is completely ridiculous and the idea that I am anti-science."
-- Stein on eliminating student debt: "We found a way to bail out Wall Street and when we needed the money, we found it. That debt is largely owned now by the federal government. I'm suggesting that the Federal Reserve buy that debt ... and basically declare that debt null and void. That would essentially mean the Federal Reserve were expanding the money supply into the hands of young people.
"There are many potential mechanisms. Congress could also be asked to come up with the money. The Federal Reserve doesn't need the permission of Congress. Yes, we would sort of owe that money to ourselves, but as a nation we have the capacity to do that. We can decide to spend money on ourselves. We can make the decision to spend money on our younger generation that presently doesn't have a future."
-- Stein on the Black Lives Matter movement: "No. 1, we need to ensure every community has a civilian review board so communities are in charge of the police rather than the police in charge of their communities. Any death at the hands of police needs to be investigated.
"We're calling for a truth and reconciliation commission so that we can actually understand what is this living legacy of fear, of racism, of incredible racial bias. Police violence is just the tip of the iceberg. There are incredible disparities and violence, economic violence, social violence and that has to be dealt with."