In a survey conducted in September 2011, Stein suggested that she would announce her intentions by the end of that month and later stated that she would announce her intentions in October. On October 24, 2011, Stein launched her campaign at a press conference in Massachusetts, saying: "We are all realizing that we, the people, have to take charge because the political parties that are serving the top 1 percent are not going to solve the problems that the rest of us face, we need people in Washington who will refuse to be bought by lobbyists and for whom change is not just a slogan".
Stein's decision to enter the presidential race stemmed from a mock election at Western Illinois University where she fared well. The mock election featured the Green ticket of Stein/Mesplay, the Democratic ticket of Obama/Biden and the Republican ticket of Romney/Ryan, with Stein receiving 27% of votes, Romney 33% and Obama 39%. Encouraged by this success, she decided to run. During an interview with Grist Magazine, Stein said:
If I can quote Alice Walker, 'The biggest way people give up power is by not knowing they have it to start with.' And that's true, for the environmental movement, the student movement, the antiwar movement, health-care-as-a-human-right movement — you put us all together, we have the potential for a Tahrir Square type event, and [to] turn the White House into a Green House in November.
Campaign manager Ben Manski at Wisconsin Wave Rally, 2011
In December 2011, Wisconsin Green Party leader Ben Manski was announced as Stein's campaign manager.
Stein became the presumptive Green Party nominee after winning two-thirds of California's delegates in June 2012. In a statement following the California election, Stein said, "Voters will not be forced to choose between two servants of Wall Street in the upcoming election. Now we know there will be a third candidate on the ballot who is a genuine champion of working people."
On July 1, 2012, the Jill Stein campaign reported it had received enough contributions to qualify for primary season federal matching funds from the Federal Election Commission, making Stein the second Green Party presidential candidate ever to have qualified, with Ralph Nader being the first in 2000.
On August 1, 2012, Stein, Honkala and three others were arrested during a sit-in at a Philadelphia bank to protest housing foreclosures on behalf of several city residents struggling to keep their homes. Stein explained her willingness to be arrested:
The developers and financiers made trillions of dollars through the housing bubble and the imposition of crushing debt on homeowners. And when homeowners could no longer pay them what they demanded, they went to government and got trillions of dollars of bailouts. Every effort of the Obama Administration has been to prop this system up and keep it going at taxpayer expense. It's time for this game to end. It's time for the laws be written to protect the victims and not the perpetrators.
On September 7, 2012, Stein was a guest of Bill Moyers for the program Moyers & Company, "Challenging Power, Changing Politics", along with Cheri Honkala and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The program centered on the role of money in politics, the Wall St. Bailout and potential solutions, such as reversing Citizen's United. Senator Sanders stated, "Fraud is the business model for Wall Street." Jill Stein also described her decision to run for president, problems with the current administration, and aspects of her platform, such as how to fund her Green New Deal:
Why should Wall Street be exempt from a sales tax? If you put a small sales tax on Wall Street transactions you not only generate hundreds of billions of dollars a year which could fund our Green New Deal, but you also rein in this reckless speculation in gambling on Wall Street which is a good thing all around.
In early September 2012, at the height of the Democratic National Convention, the Stein campaign ran their first national television ad campaigns. Google TV attempted to block the "Enough!" ad from airing, claiming that the use of an (partly bleeped) obscenity violated TV indecency rules and was "inappropriate language". The Stein campaign argued that the ads already complied with Federal Communications Commission regulations regarding appropriate content. Google eventually reversed their position, and ran the ads, but the controversy drew attention to the campaign and the ads themselves.
On September 2, Stein spoke before two hundred medical marijuana proponents in Deering Oaks Park in Portland, Maine. Stein said that "As a medical doctor and a public health advocate, marijuana, cannabis is a substance which is dangerous because it's illegal. It's not illegal because it's dangerous,".
On September 8, 2012, Jill Stein campaigned in Oregon, where neither Romney nor Obama campaigned in person, and spoke at a popular pro-marijuana, pro-hemp festival, Hempstalk 2012. Stein voiced support for Oregon's Measure 80, on the November ballot, that would legalize marijuana use for adults, regulate and tax it, and lift restrictions on using industrial hemp in clothing and other products. Stein stated, "Poor people are being thrown into prison for the recreational use of a substance that is not dangerous, and that is a crime."
Throughout September 2012 Stein made further appearances in various parts of the country. Stein made appearances during the "Poverty Tour 2.0" which was headed by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West. Poverty Tour was designed to bring to light the plight of those suffering from poverty in the United States. On September 13, Stein joined the picket line of the Chicago Teachers Strike. On September 15, Stein gave a speech at Fighting Bob Fest in Madison, Wisconsin. Stein joined protesters and addressed the crowds during the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street on September 17.
Oct. 31, 2012, Dr. Stein was arrested in Texas while opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline
In Denver on October 3, the date of the first presidential debate, Stein and Occupy Denver marched in protest of third parties being left out of the debate. During the debate, Stein appeared on Democracy Now! to offer her own responses to the questions asked. After the debate, Stein and Honkala hosted an "After the Debate Party" at the Mercury Cafe in Denver where they addressed the crowd about the debate and the campaign.
On October 11, Stein made an appearance at the American Islamic Congress. On October 16, 2012, Stein and vice-presidential nominee Cheri Honkala were arrested for disorderly conduct while trying to take part in the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. The two women claim they were taken to a warehouse, and strapped for eight hours to chairs with plastic wrist restraints before being released.
On October 31, Stein was arrested in Texas for criminal trespass after trying to deliver food and supplies to the XL Pipeline protesters. The next day, on November 1, an interview with Stein was featured on MTV.com. Also on November 1 the Stein campaign released their second television commercial. Stein appeared with Rocky Anderson on Truthdig Radio on KPFK on November 2 for an interview about alternative candidates and the state of the presidential race.
Other than the centerpiece of her campaign, modeled after the New Deal which was called the Green New Deal, Stein has a number of other positions which included nationalization of the Federal Reserve and placing them under the authority of the Department of the Treasury, having a full employment program, the renegotiation of "NAFTA and other "free trade agreements," turning the minimum wage into a living wage, ending corporate welfare, making "heat, electricity, phone, internet, and public transportation ... democratically run, publicly owned utilities that operate at cost, not for profit," having a 90% on the bonuses collected by bankers that were bailed out, break up too big to fail banks, and stopping private banks from creating Federal Reserve Notes. Some of her other views included letting pension funds be controlled by workers democratically, establishing "federal, state, and municipal publicly owned banks," free secondary and higher education, supporting local, healthy food, putting in place a moratorium on future foreclosures, stopping hydraulic fracturing, making a grid to provide energy democratically, repealing the Patriot Act and parts of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, passing the Equal Rights Amendment, reversing the Citizens United ruling and closing all U.S. military bases. Other policies included granting "undocumented immigrants ... a legal status which includes the chance to become U.S. citizens" while halting their deportations, and ending the War on Drugs by putting a bigger emphasis on treatment instead of incarceration.
In September Jill Stein began appearing on nationwide election polls. A CNN poll taken from September 7–9 reported that 2% of registered voters responded that they were voting for Stein and 1% of likely voters would vote for Stein. A poll by JZ Analytics taken from September 11–12 reported that 1.9% of registered voters were voting for Stein and 0.9% of likely voters would vote for Stein.Gallup Tracking found from a poll taken from September 6–9 that 1% of registered voters and 1% of likely voters were planning on voting for Stein. A JZ Analytics poll taken from September 21–22 reported that 1.6% of those questioned were voting for Stein.
On October 1, CNN released a poll with 3% of registered voters and 3% of likely voters responding that they were planning on voting for Stein. A CNN poll take in Ohio from October 5–8 reported that 1% of voters in the state were planning on voting for Stein.
On Election Day, Stein received 469,501 votes (0.36% of the popular vote). Stein received nearly triple the number of votes Cynthia McKinney received in 2008 (161,797 votes or 0.12%) and nearly four times the number of votes David Cobb received in 2004 (119,859 votes; 0.10%). Stein received over 1% of the popular vote in three states: 1.3% in Maine, 1.1% in Oregon, and 1.0% in Alaska. It is also possible that she received over one percent in Arkansas. Arkansas only reported 97.7% of its results and Stein had received 0.9% of the vote at last count.
The following is a table comparison of ballot status for the Green Party presidential nominee in 2012 to 2008 and 2004. After the 2010 census the Electoral College changed.
Sunyata Altenor, organizing coordinator for Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, program director for Latin American and Caribbean Community Center, and member of Committee of Interns and Residents.
Lawrence A. Winans, editor of Dissenting Democrat, former executive director of Minnesota Fair Housing Center, co-founder/former president of Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, and former executive director of Partners for Affordable Housing.
Mary Bricker-Jenkins, USA-Canada Alliance of Inhabitants & former co-chair of the Assembly to End Poverty.
Monica Beemer, executive director of Sisters of the Road.
Rick Tingling-Clemmons, former United States House of Representatives candidate, former consultant for Metropolitan District of Columbia Health Consortium, and former member of Washington DC Advisory Neighborhood Commission.
Eric Sheptock, Chair of Shelter Housing and Respectful Change.
Lee Ballinger, West Coast Editor of Rock & Rap Confidential.
Jennifer Jewell, Director of Women in Transition.