Jill Stein Officially Takes Green Party Nomination
RAY SUAREZ, HOST:
The Green Party officially has a nominee for November. Jill Stein accepted her party's nomination at the convention today in Houston. Her running mate is human rights activist Ajamu Baraka. NPR's Jessica Taylor is covering the Green Party Convention and joins us now from Houston. Hi, Jess.
JESSICA TAYLOR, BYLINE: Hi, Ray.
SUAREZ: Well, Jill Stein's been at the head of the Green Party effort for a while now. She was on this very program just a couple of weeks ago. Did she have any real competition for the party's presidential nomination?
TAYLOR: Not really. There was a little bit of controversy this morning at a press conference that they held with all of the candidates that were running. There were two African-American candidates that stood up and said that they believed the party shouldn't be represented by, quote, "a privileged woman," but Stein still won the nomination easily. When she took the stage earlier this morning, she was met with chants of, quote, "Jill not Hill" - a little slam there at Hillary Clinton. And at a reception last night, there was a huge line around the room to get photos of her. She's a big celebrity here.
Now, this is a much smaller convention than the RNC or DNC. I'm here at the University of Houston. Delegates are staying in dorm rooms and eating at the dining hall. The whole thing has a bit of a camp feel to it. There was even a talent show last night. But this is the biggest one that they've ever held. They expected about 250 people originally, but that surged to more than 500 people over the past month.
SUAREZ: Might some of those new attendees be disappointed Bernie Sanders supporters? Are they specifically reaching out to them?
TAYLOR: They have explicitly reached out to Sanders supporters. I've heard his name mentioned almost more than Stein's over the past few days. I've talked with several former Sanders supporters who are here, and they decided to switch to Stein after he endorsed Clinton. Some of them said they were disappointed by that decision. Some of them didn't fault him for it. But all of them said they want to continue this revolution that he started, and that they've found a new home here in the Green Party. Here's Suzanne Simmonds from Houston who I talked to last night.
SUZANNE SIMMONDS: I miss him so much, and I'm very thankful that Jill is able to come into the fold and take all these people that worked so hard for Bernie, to take them under her wing and that now we have someone else to support versus the capitalist and the fascist.
SUAREZ: Tough words. Where do - not by personality but by policy - where do Stein and Sanders overlap?
TAYLOR: Well, yeah, policy-wise there's a lot of similarities between the two. Now, neither take corporate money. Of course, that was a big thing Sanders was championing. He also talked a lot about social and economic justice, and, you know, the party here is also very big on environmental issues and in peace in international conflicts and things like that. Stein's even said that she would step aside if Sanders wanted to run under the Green Party label.
Now, there's still a lot of criticisms that she could just be a spoiler this November. Remember back in 2000, Ralph Nader - he got almost 3 percent of the vote. That was the party's high watermark. But he was also blamed by many people for hurting Al Gore and throwing the election to George Bush.
SUAREZ: Are there early indications of how strong the candidate and the campaign are?
TAYLOR: Her big hurdle right now is to get to 15 percent in the polls. Now, that would get her on the debate stage this fall, and that's what libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is gunning for, too. He's much closer in the low teens in some polls and Stein's at about 5 percent right now. She'll have a big chance to help that cause on August 17 when she and her running mate will participate in a CNN town hall.
SUAREZ: That's NPR's Jessica Taylor from the Green Party Convention held this weekend in Houston, Texas. Jess, thanks.
TAYLOR: Thanks so much, Ray.
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