Americans Elect, which is inviting the public to a virtual primary, faces daunting hurdles. But dissatisfaction with the partisan gridlock in Washington creates a favorable political climate.
With the dysfunction of Washington on full display as the nation inches toward defaulting on its debt, a coalition of American centrists has launched a bold gambit to nominate a third-party ticket for the 2012 presidential election.
Funded with at least $20 million, the majority from large, mostly unnamed donors, Americans Elect is vying to become the most serious third-party insurgency since industrialist H. Ross Perot nearly upended the 1992 presidential campaign.
And they're doing it in a decidedly 21st century way by creating an "open source" virtual primary in which the public is invited, via the Internet, to nominate a presidential ticket, ostensibly of moderates, and get the names on ballots in all 50 states.
Privately, political scientists say, some of the principals have debated a potential Gen. David Petraeus-Michael Bloomberg ticket as one possible outcome to challenge Obama-Biden and a potential Republican ticket such as Mitt Romney-Rick Perry. The group is also considering floating congressional candidates.
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