Most voters will likely never know her name, let alone cast a vote for her at the ballot box, but that’s not deterring Dr. Jill Stein from running for president in 2016.
Stein was the Green Party’s presidential nominee in 2012 and is expected to announce Friday the she’s exploring another White House bid in 2016.
Prior to making the announcement, Stein sat down exclusively with “Power Players” to explain why she’s stepping forward as an alternative to the current field of likely presidential contenders that she characterizes as “corrupt and sold out.”
“There are rules that make it possible for the very rich to buy politicians — that’s what’s going on,” Stein said. “There’s a horse race around grabbing the money right now, and I think it speaks volumes about what a really sorry state our political system has come to.”
In her 2012 campaign, Stein received fewer than half a million votes across the country – less than 1 percent of the total popular vote – and was even arrested for trying to get into a televised debate from which she was excluded.
Stein recalled the arrest – and subsequent holding – as “the most bizarre experience you can imagine.”
“For trying to get into that debate, I was actually arrested, taken to a dark site where no one knew where I was — the site was secret — and held handcuffed to metal chairs for approximately eight hours,” Stein said. “It speaks volumes about how terrified the political system is that the voices of principled opposition may actually get heard.”
Before entering politics, Stein was a practicing doctor and authored two books on medical topics. Now, Stein said she’s practicing a different type of medicine.
“What I’m doing now is practicing political medicine, which I call the mother of all illnesses,” Stein said. “If we want to fix what’s ailing us — both our health, our jobs, our foreign policy — which is generating incredible blowback … we need to fundamentally fix our democracy and the political system.”
On a quest against the current political system that she believes has been “bought and paid for by the one percent,” Stein acknowledged that she is waging an uphill battle.
That battle is particularly steep given the Green Party abstains from collecting any corporate donations, at a time when Super PACs and dark money bankroll most major political campaigns.
“What we will raise will be a drop in the ocean compared with what the Koch brothers are spending,” said Stein, who estimates that her 2012 campaign raised a total of around a million dollars. That’s compared to the $900 million that the conservative billionaire businessmen Koch brothers alone plan to spend in the 2016 cycle.
“If we as Americans allow our electoral system to be just bought and sold and that’s it, then there’s really not very much hope going forward in the future,” Stein said, defending the Green Party’s decision not to collect corporate dollars.
In the 2000 presidential election, some Democrats blamed third party candidate Ralph Nader for taking votes away from Democratic nominee Al Gore and helping advance President George W. Bush’s narrow victory.
As a third party candidate herself, it’s a critique Stein is used to hearing – and dismissing.
“We’ve heard of that, what we call the politics of fear, that tells you, ‘You have to be very worried about secondary effects of your vote,’” Stein said. “If you don’t stand up and vote for what you want and you need, then you’re never gonna get it and the system won’t get it.”
For more of the interview with Stein, including why she disagreed with President Obama’s declaration of a strong economic recovery in his State of the Union address, check out this episode of “Power Players.”
ABC News’ Ali Dukakis, Gary Westphalen, Richard Norling, and Shari Thomas contributed to this episode.