Could the Presidential Debates Include a Third-Party Candidate?

The Commission on Presidential Debates is preparing to include a third podium onstage in case Gary Johnson or Jill Stein pull ahead in the polls by mid September.

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Aug 9 2016, 2:55pm

Photo via Flickr user Darron Birgenheier

All those Americans less than enthusiastic about the 2016 election prospects could get a chance to see how third-party candidates hold up to Trump's inevitable onslaught of insults onstage during the upcoming presidential debates, Politico reports.

The Commission on Presidential Debates has apparently drawn up a plan to include a third podium in the upcoming three presidential debates, just in case Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson or the Green Party's Jill Stein pull ahead in the polls by mid September.

In order to get invited, Johnson or Stein would need to be polling at an average of 15 percent across five national polling organizations, in addition to having a mathematical chance of winning a majority vote in the Electoral College. Currently Johnson is polling at double digits in some states and Stein is at an average of 3.8, but ultimately their spot onstage comes down to a decision by the commission.

"If someone came in and let's say he was [polling] at 14.5 percent and the margin of error in five polls was three points, we are going to have to sit down and look at it," commission co-chair Frank Fahrenkopf told CNBC.

Polls aside, there might not be a need for a third podium, anyway. While the Clinton campaign agreed to all three scheduled debates Monday, Trump is still whining about the schedule's conflicts with NFL games and may just skip the whole thing if he doesn't drop out beforehand.

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