Gary Johnson May Change the Game for Trump & Clinton

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From The New York Times:

As desperate chatter about third-party and independent presidential bids grows louder, Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico and a Libertarian presidential candidate, has a message for Republicans who are feeling disillusioned: Give me a chance.

America’s smaller political parties are perennially lost in the shadow of an entrenched two-party system, but as the urgency to stop Donald J. Trump mounts, interest is growing in some of them. With many Republicans viewing the prospect of Hillary Clinton and Mr. Trump on the ballot in November as a dire dilemma, the unorthodox nature of this election year represents a rare opportunity for Libertarians.

“Given the fact that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I think, are two of the most polarizing figures in American politics today, where is the third choice?” Mr. Johnson said in an interview. “I don’t know how you set the dinner table any more favorably for a Libertarian candidate.”

The prospect of Hillary Clinton and Mr. Trump on the ballot [is a] a dire dilemma

Mr. Johnson, who garnered more than a million votes as the Libertarian Party’s nominee in 2012, attracted attention last month after a national Monmouth University poll included him in a hypothetical general election matchup with Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump. He drew the support of 11 percent of voters, raising the possibility that if his numbers continue to pick up, he could be eligible to participate in the presidential debates this fall.

The Libertarian Party will be on the ballot in all 50 states, and some political strategists have speculated that a mainstream Republican could make a last-ditch effort to stop Mr. Trump by trying to run on the Libertarian ticket. Libertarians are unlikely to allow the party to be used as a vessel for such a cause, but they do not mind being part of the conversation.

“I think they’d get their heads handed to them,” Mr. Johnson said of any mainstream Republican who sought the Libertarian Party’s backing. But, he added, “it would be terrific from an attention standpoint.”

Patrick Murray, who runs the Monmouth poll, said Mr. Johnson remained largely unknown to the general public and attributed his surprisingly strong poll numbers to displeasure with the major-party candidates. He performed best in red states, but over all appeared to siphon slightly more support away from Mrs. Clinton.

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