Commission on Presidential Debates Announces Application Of Non-Partisan Candidate Selection Criteria

Sep 24, 2004

The non-partisan, non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates (“CPD”) announced today that it has applied its Non-Partisan Candidate Selection Criteria for 2004 General Election Debate participation to determine eligibility to participate in the presidential debate to take place at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida on September 30 and the vice-presidential debate to take place on October 5 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Pursuant to the criteria, which were publicly announced on September 24, 2003, those candidates qualify for debate participation who (1) are constitutionally eligible to hold the office of President of the United States; (2) have achieved ballot access in a sufficient number of states to win a theoretical Electoral College majority in the general election; and (3) have demonstrated a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate, as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recent publicly-reported results.

The Board of Directors of the CPD convened today to apply the criteria with the assistance of the Editor-In-Chief of the Gallup Polling Organization, Dr. Frank Newport. Of the declared candidates, President George W. Bush and Senator John F. Kerry were found to have satisfied all three criteria. Accordingly, President George W. Bush and his running mate, Vice-President Dick Cheney, and Senator John Kerry and his running mate, Senator John Edwards, qualify to participate in the September 30 presidential debate and the October 5 vice-presidential debate, respectively. No other candidates satisfied the criteria for inclusion in the September 30 and October 5 debates.

The CPD has successfully sponsored fourteen consecutive presidential and vice presidential general election debates, commencing in 1988. The CPD’s planning for the 2004 debates has extended over a period of years and has drawn upon the CPD’s now-extensive experience in sponsoring general election debates. On November 6, 2003, the CPD announced the four dates and locations for this year’s debates, and on August 17, 2004, the CPD announced the four journalists who will moderate those debates: Jim Lehrer, Gwen Ifill, Charles Gibson and Bob Schieffer. The CPD is firmly committed to providing, in a professional and non-partisan manner, debates in 2004 that will allow the American public to view the leading presidential and vice presidential candidates discuss the issues facing the country.

The candidates who have qualified to participate today previously have committed to participate in the debates sponsored by the CPD.