SCOTT SIMON, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
No matter when New Hampshire and South Carolina schedule their party primary elections, a group called Unity08 wants to draft a bipartisan or independent ticket for the 2008 presidential campaign. The group got a big-name boost this week when Sam Nunn, former Democratic senator from Georgia, said he might be interested in running under the Unity08 banner.
We're joined now by Unity08's Robert Bingham, chief executive officer of the group. He joins us from the studios of member station KPPS in San Diego.
Mr. Bingham, thanks so much for being with us.
Mr. ROBERT BINGHAM (Chief Executive Officer, Unity08): Well, thanks for having me on.
SIMON: What do you stand for, and why do you think the two major parties are insufficient vehicles for change?
Mr. BINGHAM: Well, I think that if you look at this country right now, we have two parties who have monopolized and, I guess, been fighting. It's like a bad marriage. And right now, there's nothing that seems to be getting done. People like me who basically checked out of politics for a variety of reasons, feeling like my vote or my money doesn't really count, have decided to put ourselves together on the Internet and use the Internet as a tool and to try to take back our country.
SIMON: Would it be divisive, for example, if I ask you if Unity08 has a position on Iraq, withdrawal or stay; gun control, yea or nay, that sort of thing?
Mr. BINGHAM: Yeah. I think, you know, we have really large tent. And, you know, one of the things we're trying to do here is allow all people who have all kinds of ideas, whether they're single-issue voters or people like, you know, who have, I guess, a passion to get involved in our process, but really, at the end of the day, it's going to be the ability of people to organize on the Internet, be able to post their positions, how they feel, you know, it's about them - and be able to answer those questions in a broad sense and post those questions, I guess, to the candidates.
SIMON: When will your nomination process go through?
Mr. BINGHAM: We are going to have our commission in June of 2008. We will have a online convention where we hope to have millions of people participate, rank and rate the issues that are important to them, pose those to the candidates, and have the candidates address those both with video and text. And we're going to have a series of elections until we get a victor to go forth into the general election where we have done all the 50 state ballot access.
SIMON: And forgive me if I don't understand this exactly in the right order, but it sounds like you don't have positions so much but you're looking to find candidates who do have strong and decisive positions.
Mr. BINGHAM: Well, we want - we know that people out there have positions. You know, we think that the Internet, by having lots of people log in to Unity08.com and be able to tell us how they feel about the issues, and allow us to be able to the post that to credible candidates and be able to - what the candidates tell us how they're going to deal with those issues is a real credible way to pick the next president of the United States.
SIMON: Mm-hmm. So you want a bipartisan ticket, a Republican and a Democrat?
Mr. BINGHAM: Yeah, Republican and Democrat or Republican and an independent. What would be ideal for us would be to have the person pick their team. They actually know who, not just the president and vice president, are going to be, but also who the secretary of state and defense secretary and all the way down the line. I mean, we have the opportunity here to really rewrite how we look at our power structure in this country. And this is what Unity08 represents.
SIMON: John Anderson, a Republican who became an independent, ran for president as an independent in 1980 with Patrick Lucey, who had been Democratic governor of Wisconsin, and you know, they got creamed. How would Unity08 hope to be any different?
Mr. BINGHAM: Well, you know, one of the great things about giving people a third alternative, everyone is going to benefit when they go into the polls in November. Really, no one has ever planted a flag in the middle, I mean, and said, we're going to find a candidate who will rally around that.
SIMON: Mm-hmm. I keep coming back to this. You've gotten these two examples occurred to me right now. You have Governor Richardson saying Iraq troops should come home by Christmas. You have Senator McCain saying Iraq, we have to stay there until we've secured the country. And you know, you've got 16 other candidates with views that vary between the two.
Mr. BINGHAM: The parties are addressing the issue to be able to bring our troops home by Christmas. Is that - that's a noble goal and it sounds good on a postcard. It looks good on a bumper sticker, but I'm not sure it's realistic. And yet, at the same time, I don't think we want to be there forever either.
So I think the American people are moderate in their positions and I think the two parties have staked out very extreme positions on all these issues to try to galvanize their base. And they've realized that after the last cycle that they don't have to ever go back to the middle to address people who, like us, who are here and sort of saying, hey, when are you going to start dealing with some of the things we need to get done here in Congress.
SIMON: Well, Mr. Bingham, thank you so much for your time.
Mr. BINGHAM: Well, thanks for having me.
SIMON: Robert Bingham, CEO of Unity08, joining us from San Diego.
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