Gary Johnson said the Libertarian ticket is a “comet” that will take out the “two-party dinosaur” this fall, thanks to voters losing faith in the Democratic and Republican candidates, as he continued to criticize what he calls unfair opinion polls.
Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Mr. Johnson, the former two-term governor of New Mexico, called Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton “the two most polarizing figures in America today,” while his running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, said the major parties are struggling to connect with voters.
“They’re having trouble connecting with the usual and natural good will and enthusiasm and support of the American public, because the tectonic plates of our democracy are shifting,” said Mr. Weld.
This gives the Libertarians the opportunity to win over dissatisfied Democrats and Republicans, they said, which would give their ticket a chance in the general election.
But the uphill battle to defeat Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton is considerably steep. In a three-way competition, Mr. Johnson is polling at 7.6%, according to the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls. That’s below 15% threshold required to participate in the televised presidential debates.
And that’s only when Mr. Johnson is included in the polls as an option. Some polls in recent weeks only added in third party candidates after polling Mr. Trump versus Mrs. Clinton, which the Libertarian presidential candidate criticized.
“Right now we’re an afterthought,” said Mr. Johnson. “Right now it’s Clinton and Trump and that’s what gets recorded … If at the very onset, they would poll Johnson, Trump and Clinton, I think that would result in the 15 percent we need to be in the presidential debates and the added scrutiny that will go along with that.”
A third party presidential candidate hasn’t won more than 5% of the popular vote in a general election since 1996, when Reform Party candidate Ross Perot ran against Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. But there could be a bigger opening for a third party candidate this year as the two major party candidates have historically high unfavorable ratings.
About 60% of registered voters in a recent WSJ/NBC poll held a negative view of Mr. Trump, while 55% viewed Mrs. Clinton unfavorably.
“This is a two party dinosaur, and we think we’re going to be the comet in this equation,” said Mr. Johnson.
The candidates slammed Mr. Trump specifically for his positions on trade and treaty organizations, saying they would run their administration on ideals of free trade and diplomacy.
“Mr. Trump seems to prefer the rule of bullying and bankruptcy,” said Mr. Weld. “Tomorrow, instead of taking out ‘The Art of the Deal,’ his book, and re-reading it for the 400th time, take out the U.S. Constitution and read it for the first time.”
The Libertarians are running on a socially liberal, fiscally conservative platform that emphasizes marketplace freedom, military restraint, tax cuts and marijuana legalization.