HOUSTON - The U.S. Green Party on Saturday officially nominated Massachusetts physician Jill Stein as its presidential candidate and human rights activist Ajamu Baraka as her running mate at its convention in Houston.
Several hundred delegates and supporters cheered as Stein accepted the nomination and went through a list of left-of-center positions the party presents in its platform, including a government payoff of student loan debt, an end to free-trade agreements, and an end to military action in the Middle East.
When Stein criticized Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for having approved of the Iraq War and military actions carried out by President Barack Obama while she was secretary of state, the crowd chanted, “Jill, not Hill.”
At a later news conference, VOA asked Stein about Democrats who share her disdain for Clinton but who fear that voting for Stein would help Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump win, which they think would be a disaster for the country.
“I would feel horrible if Donald Trump got elected and I would feel horrible if Hillary Clinton got elected. Donald Trump says despicable things and is, no doubt, a danger to humanity, but Hillary Clinton has also done horrible things and is also a danger to humanity," Stein said.
She said the Green Party has attracted many of the Democrats who once supported Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic nominee selection process. She said donations to her party had increased dramatically after Sanders endorsed Clinton.
Most independent political analysts see little hope for a Stein victory in the presidential race, noting that the Green Party has not won any federal or state offices in the past and has been successful only in some local races.
Stein’s only experience in elected office came as a member of the Lexington, Massachusetts, Town Meeting, similar to a city council seat.
But Princeton University professor Cornel West, who had supported Sanders, is now working with Stein’s campaign. He told VOA that Clinton has not been able to convince him that she would genuinely address the issues that are important to those who backed Sanders.
“Each candidate has to make a case and each citizen has to decide,” West said, “Hillary Clinton cannot make the case that she is fundamentally concerned about democracy in America and that she is fundamentally concerned about accountability of Wall Street.”
It remains to be seen, however, how many other former Sanders supporters will support Stein, who faces an uphill battle even to be considered by most voters.
Recent polls have shown that more than 60 percent of Americans have never heard of her. Both the Green Party and the Libertarian Party have sought to be included in the televised presidential debates in September and October, but neither of them has qualified by showing sufficient support in polls.
Both parties filed a lawsuit seeking an open debate, but a federal judge on Friday rejected their plea.
The Green Party has launched some televised ads that may draw interest from voters, and Stein and her running mate are scheduled to appear at a televised town hall meeting on CNN on August 17.
So far, however, polls show the Libertarian Party with about 8 percent support and the Green Party at about 5 percent. Neither party has anything close to the money and national structural resources of the two major parties.