While millions of Americans were focused on Wednesday night’s final televised debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, thousands of their fellow citizens watched a livestream feed featuring five of the presidential candidates excluded from the Las Vegas debate stage.
Thanks to iSideWith.com founders Taylor Peck and Nick Boutelier, those viewers were able to read the responses from the Reform Party’s Rocky De La Fuente, Jill Stein of the Green Party, the Constitution Party’s Darrell Castle, independent candidate Evan McMullin and — in moments when he wasn’t seemingly too bored and actually stayed on topic — even gleaned a few responses from Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico who made participation in the televised debates the rallying cry of his second bid for the White House.
The 61-year-old De La Fuente, a low-key San Diego businessman whose name will appear on the ballot in twenty states and will be a write-in option in at least fifteen others, seems to have stolen the show.
As in the previous debate livestreamed by iSideWith.com, De La Fuente was the only third-party aspirant for the presidency to answer every question directed at his major-party rivals — and he did so with his usual aplomb and some occasional humor.
Unlike his minor-party rivals, De La Fuente was on top of his game, calling his two major-party opponents “dumb and dumber” and “dumber and dumb.” When moderator Chris Wallace, for instance, asked Clinton and Trump if they would be willing to put U.S. troops in Mosul to prevent an ISIS reemergence, the Reform Party candidate joked out loud that it was a good thing the Fox News anchor hadn’t directed that question to the Libertarian candidate. “Gary Johnson,” he reminded the viewers, “did not know where Aleppo was.”
Throughout the 90-minute livestream, the laser-focused De La Fuente’s written responses were far more substantive and thoughtful than those of his independent and third-party rivals, several of whom simply repeated tired and unimaginative talking points or catchy slogans.
The real estate developer-turned-presidential candidate listened closely as both Clinton and Trump talked about growing the economy, but deftly avoided addressing the issue of the $19 trillion national debt.
“We have to pay for that,” insisted De La Feunte, “and to accomplish that, we need jobs, jobs, jobs.”
“If I happen to get re-elected,” he added almost matter-of-factly, “I would basically generate 32 million new jobs.”
It was vintage Rocky.
In response to the moderator’s question regarding Clinton’s call for a no-fly zone in Syria and the concerns expressed by the joint Chief of Staff that such a policy could lead to war with Syria and Russia, De La Fuente called for cooler minds to prevail.
“There is nothing wrong when you are playing chess, to have a stalemate,” he stated calmly. “It is not about Russia or Syria winning. We need to be able to try to prevent more human loss, more human misery.
“I am Catholic, I am Roman Catholic, my kids are Roman Catholic,” the third-party candidate continued. “I married a Persian woman from Iran. She is Muslim. I understand how Muslims think, I understand how Catholics think….I understand how Jewish people think. Also, I know about the Bahai’i religion. You need to have a general understanding of the world to be able to make decisions,” he said, adding that those currently directing U.S. foreign policy have “no idea what happens in South America, they have no idea what happened in the Middle East, they have no idea what happens in China.”
It was the most profound statement of the evening.