Libertarian Candidate Within Reach of National Debate Stage

By Steven Klett, Epoch Times
August 23, 2016 6:31 pm Last Updated: August 25, 2016 7:32 pm

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is inching his way to getting on the national debate stage in an election overshadowed by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Johnson needs to get a 15 percent average in five national polls to get onto the debate stage according to the Commission of Presidential Debates.

The former governor of New Mexico and his running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, are confident that once they’re on that debate stage their chances of winning the election will grow exponentially given the national exposure. 

“We think we have a genuine shot at getting that 15 percent, and if that happens, anything is possible,” Johnson said in a teleconference with reporters including Epoch Times on Aug. 23.

Polls

Johnson’s confidence is bolstered by a steady incline his ticket has seen in national polls. In polls compiled between Aug. 8 and 16, his ticket was polling between 7 and 9 percent in a four-way race with Clinton, Trump, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

However, in an NBC/SM poll taken between Aug. 16 and 21, the Libertarian ticket polled at 11 percent—the most support Johnson and Weld have polled so far on a national level. Currently, the ticket averages 8.7 percent in a RealClearPolitics average of national polls.

Johnson said that he believes their chances to be on the debate stage are “over 50 percent” and that if he gets in the debate, then he has a chance at becoming president.

The Libertarian ticket has also picked up in state-by-state polls. In five states—Alaska, Colorado, Utah, Wisconsin, and New Mexico—the ticket has polled at 16 percent. 

Policy

When asked what’s new that they bring to the election, Johnson said that he and Weld represent the majority of Americans who are fiscally conservative and socially liberal. 

“Starting with philosophy,” Johnson said, “we represent a majority of America.”

He then contrasted the ticket against Clinton, whom he characterized as a candidate who represents the growing influence of government, and Trump, whom he characterized as favoring increased deportation, implementation of waterboarding, and more tariffs—which conflicts with one of the cornerstones of the Libertarian ticket: free trade.

“We are the only candidate that supports TPP,” said Johnson when asked about his stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

On foreign policy, he further contrasted his ticket with the two main-party candidates, opposing any military intervention overseas and having a strong stance against regime change.