Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson and Bill Weld Shift Focus to Answering Questions Outside of Debates

'I'm no longer so sure that it's game over if we're not in the debates,' Weld tells Reason


Empty podium. ||| Matt Welch

Two weeks ago, as Nick Gillespie reported in this space, Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson said that it was "game over" if he was not included in the first 2016 presidential debate on Sept. 26. Given that the Democratic/Republican-controlled "nonpartisan" Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) will choose the debate roster in mid-September based on a five-agency polling average that currently sits at 8.8 percent, well short of the required 15 percent, for Johnson, the irresistible force of the LP's debate-centric focus has been on a collision course with the immovable object of the CPD's unreasonably high threshold. Until, it seems, this afternoon.

No matter how much independent-bent political celebrities such as Mitt Romney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Mitch Daniels support the L.P. ticket being included in the debates, and no matter how much that motion is seconded by solid majorities of the American voting public, rules are rules, and when said rules are written by the Republican and Democratic parties, Libertarians are screwed. Unless, vice presidential nominee William Weld told me this afternoon, the mounting outrage at the "rigged" system is married to the sight of the two candidates outside every debate venue, making a mockery of the proceedings inside by answering every question simultaneously, only better:

"So I'm no longer so sure that it's game over if we're not in the debates," Weld told me. "I think there's going to be kind of a national uproar if we're not in the debates, and we will join in that uproar, and be standing together on the street corner outside every debate venue answering the same questions as in the debate in real time, you know, putting it out on Facebook Live."

Weld made the same promise during his address at a midtown Manhattan rally this afternoon, which was attended by 500-plus enthusiastic supporters.

"We've seen that the little videos that we record in 90 seconds are seen by 15, 18 million people in a matter of less than two weeks," he told me, "so that kind of free media attention might continue all the way from now until November 8th as a result of our exclusion. That would be a substitute, at least in part, for being in the debates, and it would give us the high ground. It's ground that I think we could occupy with some happiness."