In a Democracy Now! exclusive, Dr. Jill Stein officially launches her campaign as a Green Party candidate for the 2016 presidential race. “I have a people-powered campaign,” Stein notes. “I am running with the only national party that does not take corporate funding.” Stein, a physician and activist who first ran in 2012, outlines her platform. She joins the fray as the race for the Democratic Party nomination heats up. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, has emerged as Hillary Clinton’s main rival for the party’s nomination, as his poll ratings have surged in recent weeks. “Hillary is the Wal-Mart candidate. She has been a member of the Wal-Mart board. On jobs, on trade, on healthcare, on banks, on foreign policy, it is hard to find where we are similar.”
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Today, a Democracy Now! exclusive: A new presidential candidate enters the race, and she is announcing on Democracy Now! Dr. Jill Stein was the 2012 presidential nominee for the Green Party. Your joining us here in New York. What are your plans now?
DR. JILL STEIN: Well, I’ll just say first that I am here at Democracy Now!, which is really the home of people-powered media, to announce that I have a people-powered campaign. In the same way Democracy Now! does not take corporate funding, I’m running with the only national party that does not take corporate funding. That is the Green Party. And it’s a great honor to be here at Democracy Now! to announce that I am running for president of the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: And what does that mean exactly? You’ve run once before. How do you enter the race? And what’s your platform?
DR. JILL STEIN: So, entering the race is really defined by the Federal Election Commission. It means that you have formally declared as a candidate and that, basically, you can begin to raise money as a candidate, and you must report that money. So that defines a lot of what you can do, because obviously you need resources in order to run. And as a people-powered campaign that is working towards matching funds, there are all kinds of rules that we follow to minimize those contributions and ensure that we are not bought out by the big money, which is running the other parties. And that’s essentially the difference between my campaign and other campaigns, that we are part of a party that does not accept corporate money and that does not accept money from lobbyists nor from corporate CEOs or surrogates of corporations.
So, entering the race basically means declaring and then beginning to behave and file as a candidate. For me, that means really going to frontline communities, which are struggling really with the core of the crisis that American life has become. We’ve been told we’re in a recovery, but actually we’re in an emergency – economic, social, racial, as so clear in the incredibly moving coverage that you’ve been providing of the events in Charlotte. We are in a crisis, and –
AMY GOODMAN: In Charleston.
DR. JILL STEIN: Yeah, I’m sorry, in Charleston. Yes, we are in a crisis, and it’s really critical that we recognize the dimensions of that crisis and that we have comprehensive solutions to fix it. So that’s what our platform is. It’s basically a blueprint for a system change, and we call it our Power to the People Plan, that essentially enables us to address the economic, social, racial, ecological, democratic, financial crisis that we are grappling with.
AMY GOODMAN: Your top planks in your platform?
DR. JILL STEIN: So, our top plank really is a Green New Deal to transform our economy to a green economy, 100 percent wind, water and sun by the year 2030 – we can do it; this is an emergency, and we must do it – but to use that as an opportunity to put America back to work, to renew our infrastructure and to basically assure that everyone has a job. That’s another key plank of our Power to the People Plan, that it ensures economic rights for everyone – the right to a job, the right to complete healthcare through a Medicare for All, improved Medicare-for-All plan; that we ensure the right to quality education, from preschool through college, and that includes free public higher education and abolishing student debt.
And we’re also – you know, we are very focused on reforming the financial system, not only breaking up the big banks, but actually establishing public banks at the community, state and national level, so that we actually can democratize our finance. We can nationalize the Fed and ensure that it’s running for public purpose and not simply for private profit.
To provide a welcoming path to citizenship for immigrants and to restore our civil liberties, our foreign policy platform is very important. We feel that we should have a foreign policy that basically gets rebooted and established on the basis of international law, human rights and diplomacy, and that we should not be in the business of funding basically weapons for everybody who wants them, and in particular, we should not be delivering weapons systems or support of any sort to nations around the world that are human rights violators.
AMY GOODMAN: Last month, independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont formally kicked off his campaign. He is running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Addressing his home state of Vermont, Sanders vowed to tackle income inequality and the political power of the 1 percent.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I am proud to announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America. Today, with your support and the support of millions of people throughout our country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally. Today, we stand here and say loudly and clearly: Enough is enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people and not to a handful of billionaires.
AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Bernie Sanders announcing his candidacy for the presidency in this country. Though he is a socialist, he caucuses in the Senate with the Democrats and is running on the Democratic Party ticket. Dr. Jill Stein, you’ve just announced on Democracy Now! that you’re going to pursue the presidency on a Green Party ticket. What is your response to Sanders choosing to run within the Democratic Party?
DR. JILL STEIN: I wish that he had run outside the Democratic Party. There are many similarities, obviously, between his vision and my vision. The difference is that I’m running in a party that also supports that vision, so when our campaign comes to an end, that vision will not die. It will not be absorbed back into a party that is essentially hostile to that vision and which has basically disappeared similar very principled, wonderful reform efforts within the Democratic Party that have basically allowed the party to keep marching to the right.
AMY GOODMAN: Would you have run against Bernie Sanders if he was running on a third-party ticket?
DR. JILL STEIN: If he was running as a Green, certainly we would – it’s very hard to run as a third party. You really have to undertake a massive ballot access campaign, which is extremely expensive, and it requires an enormous culture of understanding ballot access that doesn’t come easy to people. So it would be hard for him to actually run outside of the Green Party as an independent. If we were both running as Greens, you know, we would have probably been in a Green primary, which would have been wonderful.
AMY GOODMAN: How many states were you on the ballot the last time you ran for president?
DR. JILL STEIN: It was approximately 37 states, but it covered about 82 to 85 percent of American voters.
AMY GOODMAN: Your response to the enormous response that Bernie Sanders is getting, whether he is campaigning in New Hampshire or Iowa, thousands of people coming out?
DR. JILL STEIN: It’s wonderful, and I wish him well. I wish him the best. The difference is that my campaign will be there in the general. And Bernie has already announced that if he does not make it – and in the Democratic Party, we’ve seen wonderful efforts – Jesse Jackson, Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton – who had extremely vigorous, spirited, visionary campaigns. It’s very hard to beat the system inside of the Democratic Party. And, you know, when those efforts ended, that was the end. Ours will keep going, and it will continue into the general election. And when it’s over, we’re building a party that’s not going away.
AMY GOODMAN: How do you differ most both from Bernie Sanders and from Hillary Clinton?
DR. JILL STEIN: You know, certainly I have more in common with Bernie Sanders than differences. I think if you had to look for differences, you would find them in foreign policy, where my campaign is perhaps more critical – I would say definitely more critical – of funding for regimes like that of the Netanyahu government, which are clearly war criminals. You know, so we would not be funding the weapons used in the massacre on Gaza. And I think also we put a very specific plan in order to solve the climate crisis, and that means 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2030. Perhaps Bernie will come to that; I haven’t seen that in his policies yet. These are, you know, small, big. I mean, foreign policy, I think, is big. It tends to be one issue among many, but it is the majority of our discretionary expenditures, and it’s really inseparable from all the other critical issues that we’re trying to solve.
From Hillary Clinton, you know, I’d say Hillary has a track record. And while she may be advised now by some 100 public relations experts who are helping her pitch, you know, to the fury –
AMY GOODMAN: How many are – how many are helping you? How many public relations experts?
DR. JILL STEIN: Oh, I have one insurgent public relations person.
AMY GOODMAN: But your main differences with Hillary Clinton?
DR. JILL STEIN: With Hillary, you know, I think, across the board, Hillary is the Wal-Mart candidate. Though she may change her tune a little bit, you know, she’s been a member of the Wal-Mart board. On jobs, on trade, on healthcare, on banks, on foreign policy, it’s hard to find where we are similar.
AMY GOODMAN: We only have a bit more than a minute. You are launching your campaign for the presidency of the United States at the same time that you have launched a lawsuit. Explain.
DR. JILL STEIN: Yes. You may remember, Amy, because your cameras were there in 2012, I was arrested, along with my running mate, at one of the debates simply for showing up, you know, to listen. I was arrested and –
AMY GOODMAN: At the presidential debate.
DR. JILL STEIN: At the presidential debate, and sent to a dark site, surrounded by 16 Secret Service and police, handcuffed tightly to metal chairs for about eight hours, until the crowds had gone home. They were that afraid that word would get out that people actually have a choice that reflects their deeply held beliefs and values.
So, it’s very exciting now that I’m a part, actually, of two cases, through the Green Party or as my campaign, two cases, one of which is being filed today, the so-called leveled field case against the Commission on Presidential Debates, and also the Federal Election Commission for overseeing them, basically for violating federal election law. People think that this is a public service institution. It’s not. It is a private corporation run by the Democratic and Republican parties. When they began to take control of the debates, which are basically rigged so that only their candidates can be in it, the League of Women Voters quit, saying this was a fraud being committed on the American public, and they would have no part of it. It’s an outrage that that fraud has been allowed to continue for decades. And it was so wonderful when Democracy Now! showed the world what an open debate looks like and how exciting and engaging that is and empowering to voters. Voters deserve to know. We deserve to have open debates to empower voters to make the choices that we deserve.
AMY GOODMAN: And we will link to that lawsuit at democracynow.org. Dr. Jill Stein, announcing her 2016 presidential candidacy for the Green Party on Democracy Now! She has run once before.