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Green Party's Jill Stein bashes debates as "engineered nitpicking on steroids"

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein wasn’t on the debate stage Monday night when the two major-party candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, faced off—and said including her and Libertarian Gary Johnson in the debate would have kept it from becoming an “engineered nitpicking on steroids that’s just going to be driving people crazy.”

“The American voter has a right to know who they can vote for,” Stein told CBSN’s Josh Elliott Monday afternoon at Hofstra University. “The reasonable standard here is to allow any candidate who’s on enough ballots than they can actually win to be known to the American voter. That’s four, it’s not 20, it’s four people who would actually create a real debate.”

“People are watching in order to gawk, in order to shriek in horror -- they’re not watching because this is representing what American politics should look like,” she added.

Shortly after her interview with Elliott, Stein was escorted off the premises. She and her supporters continued to protest outside the debate venue.

Stein said her exclusion from the debate—the Commission on Presidential Debates’ criteria required a candidate to reach at least 15 percent in a series of five national polls ahead of debate day in order to be included—a mark both Stein and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson missed.

“I felt confirmed in my expectations that the Commission on Presidential Debates would continue to serve the Democratic and Republican parties,” Stein said. “That’s who founded it, that’s who runs it, and it exists really for the purpose of eliminating political opposition.”

Asked what she thought about Trump’s and Clinton’s respective abilities to lead the country, Stein said both are controlled by “corporate interests.”

“I don’t know which one is going to be more effective in serving their corporate interests which are not the American people’s interests,” she said, saying both major parties “share the same kind of big bank funders, the same kind of insurance companies, the same war manufacturers.”

As for the next presidential debate, which is on Oct. 9, Stein said she’s not holding her breath to be included in that one either.

“We will try to get into the debate, I don’t have high expectations we’re going to be allowed in,” she said. “However we will be conducting an open debate on the free and open internet on social media through a collaboration of Periscope and Twitter.”

  • Emily Schultheis

    Emily Schultheis is a reporter/editor for CBS News Digital.