tv Meet the Presss Press Pass NBC December 11, 2011 11:30am-11:45am EST
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i'm david gregory, and this is "press pass" about what's driving washington and the campaign. this week americans elect, an organization whose goal is to break down the barrier to sfwri for running for america's highest office. he they call it the country's first direct nomination of a presidential candidate using the power of the internet. khalel bird is the ceo of americans elect and elliott ackerman is the coo. welcome. you got an endorsement from tom friedman who wrote this. write it down, americans elect, what amazon.com did to books what the ipad did to music, what
drugstore.com did to pharmacies america elects plans to do to the two-party duopoly to remove the barriers and flatten the incumbents and let the people in. watch out. what does it mean? what are you after? >> we're giving people directly the opportunity to express themselves in this campaign. americans elect has the focused goal on getting on the ballot in all 50 states and having the first ever convention online where the american people will take three functions that have normally been held in the hands of the parties and put them directly in their own hands. that is, shaping the process through the rules, shaping the issues that the candidates will have to deal with, and finally directly drafting or nominating candidates in 2012 a nonpartisan ticket, two people running from different parties will run as the third choice on the ballot. >> so the key is a nonpartisan ticket. elliott, why do we need this?
>> right now we have a government that isn't working. we're seeing the continued and predictable failure of our elected leaders to reach across the space and work together. let's see a nonpartisan ticket on the ballot. a ticket that isn't beholden to the two major parties and their special interests that quite frankly right now have this country in a state of gridlock. >> tell me how it works. first of all, you have to get ballot access. how many states have you gotten access to? >> right now we're on the ballot and certified in 11 states. we're in the process of finishing up 30 states this year. that's the most you can go into in 2011. we've got a 2.1 million of the 2.9 million signatures that we have to gather. we started this back in january, and we've been just getting ballot access across the country. a significant event that's happening this month is we certify in the state of california, which is by far the most difficult state to get on
the ballot. >> are individuals nominating figures they'd like to run, or are acandidates themselves offering themselves up via the website? >> think of it this way. in the normal course of events, presidential election, the three choices that we have right now, the democrat and the two republicans, before iowa, new hampshire would be all people would have. americans elect changes the calendar by allowing people to envision since we get ballot access, which is the big driver, envision who, what former or sitting governor, what person who is in corporate life, what person who is shown leadership and where they are. who should we be putting forward to allow to run for president this spring? just as the american people are focusing on it and as elliott said just as we're seeing a consistent level of failure in the governance in washington. gallup said it best, 86% are
disappointed with the governance they see. >> how do you get past the questions of what makes you think this will work? you have to draft snb and get somebody from across the aisle on a ticket. what makes people take this seriously enough to say, hey, this is a viable third way? >> sure. this is absolutely serious, and the challenges that we're facing right now in this country are extremely serious. 50-state ballot access is as real as it gets. by christmastime 294 electoral votes are in play, and there's going to be a third ticket on the ballot in all 50 states. so we look at where the country is at right now. people are craving stable solutions and they don't see it out of either of the parties. this allows the american people to self-correct and support tickets we've never seen as americans. a democrat with an independent, a republican with a democrat. we've never seen that. >> this is happening now. we've had more than 2 million people sign our petitions to put
americans elect on the ballot. people come on to our website, people that are registered voters in the u.s. all of them have come to our website looking for an alternative wanting chase to be open at a point at which conversation stops about who is up and running for president. >> they're galvanizing around the idea that this election is still a change election. the change is maybe not another person but another way of selecting that person. all of these thousands of volunteers across the country, we're on over 200 college campuses around the country today, maybe we could pick a president instead of a party. >> could it be a popularity contest where someone says i want former general david petraeus to be president and jon stewart as well? you could have a popularity contest that renders this sort of moot, doesn't it, if neither one of them want to move
forward? >> the american people take the selection of their president very seriously, and the idea that the american people are going to look at our election and our politics as something frivolous, we can see people are extremely concerned right now at the state of politics in this country. i think to what the other point you brought up is, we're putting options and creating a vehicle to put options on the table that folks have never imagined because there are all these significant barriers to entry. >> we'll take a quick break here. we'll be right back with our of "press pass" conversation of americans elect. trying to get a third way in american politics he beyond the republican and democratic parties.
we're back as we continue the weekly "press pass" with the leaders of americans elect, an attempt to get a third way in the presidential nominating process rather than just a democratic and republican party, a third way option for a politician to run. help me understand from your point of view and people you talk to and people that come to your organization what makes this moment different from 1992 when ross perot had an impact as a third party? you're talking about a third way. i understand that. then you had ralph nader, who was a much more marginal player, but in florida had a real impact. michael bloomberg, the mayor of new york, a billionaire, has said ballot access is an issue. he has money to spend, but he
doesn't think there's a real pathway to win. what makes you think that a third way is more viable now than before. >> a couple of statistics talked about that. 81% of the american people are disappointed in the governance in washington. when ross perot was running it was 58% were happy with the government. that's completely flipped. the number of independents that are dissatisfied with the choices of two-party system served up has expand over that same period of time. if if yyou look at people participating in the political system for a long time as voters or young people, they're not as tied to party system as they had been. what they're looking for is leaders that step forward and put the issues, concepts, ideas, all of them which booevwe've be committeeing and seeing in the different formats actually forward getting them through the legislature. for us and for this this organization it starts with
presidential leadership. >> let's see approximate if there's leadership left in this country that can put the country ahead of the party. you know, we asked before -- there's lots of legitimate what if questions. we talk about what we're doing, and they're what-if if questions. the most substantial question is what if we do nothing? what if for the next four years we see the same kind of gridlock play out in washington when our country faces serious challenges that we as a people need to rise to or respond to? get involved in americanselect.org. you can be engaged in primaries, but let's see more competition and more choices in politics. it's a good thing. >> let me ask you about money. the lifeblood of politics is money. it starts with campaigns that want and need ballot access, which is why they need big-time funding behind them. >> or the two parties. >> or the two parties, right. whose funding your operation to get ballot access? >> sure. we've raised about $22 million to date. we have a budget that's a little
over $30 million. just to get started we had to raise that money. we had 50 individuals who came forward to raise that money. some of those folks have disclosed and some haven't yet. the one that has disclosed is my father peter ackerman. they're raising money for two things. 50-state ballot access and a website where people go to compete. >> what about being completely transparent about who's supporting you financially? >> approximate if you go to our site, some people disclose in own time it's not popular with the republican and democratic parties. it's not. some of the people who are in a position to get this effort started are folks who are prominent in public life. they're prominent as the heads of, you know, companies, things of that nature, and it's very difficult for them to come out so strongly against status quo. we anticipate more will disclose and some as i mentioned to you have disclosed their support for them. we don't give any money to any candidates. every candidate files through