Libertarian Party presidential debates and forums, 2016

The Libertarian presidential debates were a series of political debates between the Libertarian candidates for president in the 2016 presidential election.

Presidential debates


The following presidential candidates participated in debates: Thomas Clements, JD Donaghe, Marc Allan Feldman, Cecil Ince, Gary Johnson, Steve Kerbel, John McAfee, Kevin McCormick, Darryl W. Perry, Austin Petersen, Derrick Michael Reid, Jack Robinson, Jr., Sam Sloan, Rhett Smith, Shawna Sterling, Vermin Supreme, Joy Waymire, and Heidi Zeman. Will Coley, a vice-presidential candidate, also appeared in one presidential debate.

Debates among candidates for the 2016 Libertarian Party U.S. presidential nomination
Date Place Host Participants
 P  Participant, main debate.  S  Participant, secondary debate only.  A  Absent.  N  Confirmed non-invitee.  O  Out of race (exploring, suspended, or not yet entered) Clements Feldman Ince Johnson Kerbel McAfee McCormick Perry Petersen Reid Robinson Smith Sterling others
October 17, 2015[1] Worcester, MA Libertarian Party of Massachusetts O P A O P O O P O P A A A none
February 27[2] Biloxi, MS Libertarian Party of Alabama
Libertarian Party of Mississippi
S P S P A P O P P S S S S none
March 5[3] Marietta, GA Libertarian Party of Georgia P A A A[lower-alpha 1] A P A A P A A[lower-alpha 2] A P none
March 5[4] Sandston, VA Libertarian Party of Virginia A A A P A A A P A P P P A none
March 7[5] Raleigh, NC
Google Hangouts
Libertarian Party of North Carolina N N N P P P N P P N P N N none
March 11[6] Springfield, IL Libertarian Party of Illinois A P P P A A A A P P A P P none
March 12[7] Colorado Springs, CO Libertarian Party of Colorado A S S P P A[lower-alpha 3] A S P A P A S none
March 19[8] Philadelphia, PA Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania A P O P O A A P A P A A A none
March 25[9] Hillsboro, OR Libertarian Party of Oregon PAC A A O P O A A A P A A A A none
March 29[10]
April 1 and 8 (air)
New York, NY Stossel
Fox Business Network
N N O P O P N N P N N N N none
April 1[11] Washington, DC Public Square, Inc. N P O N O N N P N N N N N none
April 2[12] Los Angeles, CA Libertarian Party of California A P O P O P S A[lower-alpha 4] P S A S A Sloan
April 8[13] San Antonio, TX Libertarian Party of Texas N P O P O P N N P N N N P none
April 9[14] Palm Beach, FL Libertarian Party of Florida A P O P O A A P P A A A A none
April 16[15] Baton Rouge, LA Libertarian Party of Louisiana P A O A O A A P A A P P A none
April 16[16] Maple Grove, MN Libertarian Party of Minnesota A A O P O A A A A A A A P none
April 30[17][18] New York, NY Libertarian Party of New York A S O P O P A P P S A A A Coley
May 12[19][20][21] Washington, DC RT America N P O A O A P P A N N N N none
May 16[22][23]
May 20 (air)[24]
Las Vegas, NV Libertarian Party of Nevada
N N O P O P N N P N N N N none
May 26[25] Orlando, FL Libertarian Party National Convention S P[lower-alpha 5] O P O P S P P ? ? ? S Donaghe
May 28[26][27] Orlando, FL Libertarian Party National Convention
N P O P O P N P P N N N N none
  1. Jim Gray stood in for Johnson.
  2. David Robinson stood in for Robinson.
  3. Chris Thrasher stood in for McAfee, and made the second debate round.
  4. Starchild read a statement from Perry.
  5. Feldman was promoted to the primary debate from the secondary debate.

April 1 – New York – Fox Business Network

On March 29 the Libertarian Party had its first ever nationally-televised forum. The first half of the forum aired on April 1, and the second half on April 8, both hosted by John Stossel on the Fox Business Network. The three leading Libertarian candidates were present in the debate: Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, Libertarian Republican founder Austin Petersen and computer programmer John McAfee. In the second half of the debate, the candidates responded to questions given by Fox personalities and people who sent in questions via social media. In post-debate polls conducted by both Stossel and the Libertarian Party, Petersen was seen as the winner of the Libertarian forum.[28][29]

May 12 – Washington, DC – RT America

On May 12, a second televised Libertarian debate was aired and hosted by RT America. It was televised live.[30] The three main candidates were invited but did not participate. Instead, Marc Allan Feldman, Darryl W. Perry and Kevin McCormick appeared in the event. The debate was moderated by Tyrel Ventura (son of former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura) and Tabetha Wallace. RT America also hosted a televised debate for the Green Party three days prior.

Perry surprised the moderators during the debate when he said he wanted to end the United States federal government, going as far as to say "the United States government is the world's largest terrorist organization".[31]

May 20 – Las Vegas – TheBlaze

On May 16, the three leading Libertarian candidates (Johnson, Petersen and McAfee) participated in a debate held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Longtime Libertarian and entertainer Penn Jillette hosted the debate, which was aired by TheBlaze cable channel on May 20. The candidates were asked questions by other celebrities, including comedians Drew Carey, Carrot Top, Jeff Ross as well as Dee Snider of Twisted Sister and The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld.[32] The debate focused on corporate greed, the War on Drugs and the government’s use of force, both at home and abroad. “The government is, by definition, force, and there are certain things you need to do. You need to do defense, you need to do courts, you need to do police. But beyond that, I don’t know if we have to use a lot of force to decide how people make their lawns look,” Jillette said. On the issues Johnson said, “The fact that we have the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world, the War on Drugs is really about Black Lives Matter. With regard to our military interventions, I think that they have the unintended consequence of making things worse, not better,” Johnson said. “They’re probably fine human beings, but the two-party system takes the soul of a man or woman,” McAfee said. “That has to change. It is why we, as Americans, are so dissatisfied. Where will they turn? There’s only us.” [33]

May 26 and 28 – Orlando – Libertarian National Convention

On May 26 and May 28, the presidential candidates debated during the Libertarian National Convention. The preliminary May 26 debate was not televised, and included three tiers. The top tier debate included candidates Feldman, Johnson, McAfee, Perry, and Petersen. Participants in the May 28 debate were determined by a token system. To be invited, a candidate had to earn the tokens of at least 10% of registered delegates.[34] Feldman, Johnson, McAfee, Perry, and Petersen all earned enough tokens to participate in the May 28 debate.[35] Larry Elder moderated the debate.[26] C-SPAN televised the May 28 debate live.[27]

The debate stirred some criticism when Gary Johnson was met with boos after saying he would've signed/voted on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[36]  Much of the Libertarian audience opposes the bill because of its contents on private discrimination.  He was also booed for supporting drivers' licences.[36]

Vice-presidential debates

May 17 – Freedom Gulch

On May 17, Freedom Gulch hosted a Libertarian vice-presidential debate on Google Hangouts featuring the candidates: Will Coley, Alicia Dearn, Larry Sharpe, and Judd Weiss.[37] This occurred before Gary Johnson announced William Weld as his vice-presidential pick.

May 26 and 27 – Orlando – Libertarian National Convention

On May 26, at the Libertarian National Convention, the vice-presidential candidates held a preliminary debate after the preliminary presidential debate. It was a two-tiered debate, with the top tier featuring candidates William Weld, Will Coley, Larry Sharpe, Alicia Dearn, and Judd Weiss.[38] The next day on May 27, the vice-presidential candidates had their main debate, featuring Weld, Coley, Sharpe, and Dearn.[39]

Post-convention town halls and forums

June 22 – New York – CNN

On June 22, CNN hosted a Libertarian prime time town hall with Libertarian nominees Gary Johnson and William Weld. It was held at CNN's headquarters, inside the Time Warner Center in New York City. The town hall was moderated by Chris Cuomo.[40] Over 900,000 people watched the broadcast.[41]

August 3 – CNN

CNN again hosted a Libertarian town hall, on August 3, featuring Gary Johnson and Bill Weld,[41] this time moderated by Anderson Cooper. The town hall was viewed by more than 1.6 million viewers and helped lead the network to a cable news first-place rating in the 18-49 category, scoring a 0.5. [42]

August 12 – Las Vegas – AAJA Presidential Election Forum

On August 12, Gary Johnson participated in a Presidential Election Forum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas during the Asian American Journalists Association's annual conference. Former president Bill Clinton was also a participant, representing his wife, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.[43]

August 17 – Fusion Libertarian Forum

On August 17, Fusion hosted a forum featuring Johnson and Weld and was moderated by Jorge Ramos and Alicia Menendez.[44]

August 26 – New York – Fox Business Network

On August 26, the Fox Business Network aired a town hall featuring Gary Johnson and William Weld and hosted by John Stossel.[45]

September 12 - Philadelphia - Sirius XM

On September 12, Gary Johnson and William Weld participated in a town hall at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, moderated by Michael Smerconish and broadcast on the Sirius XM channel P.O.T.U.S..[46]

September 13 – Purdue University

On September 13, Gary Johnson participated in a discussion at Purdue University hosted by Purdue president and former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels.[47]

September 28 - University of New Hampshire - MSNBC

On September 28, MSNBC aired a town hall featuring Gary Johnson and William Weld, moderated by Chris Matthews and taking place at the University of New Hampshire.[48]


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