As we hit the final stretch of the most incredible presidential campaign in modern memory, it appears that third-party candidates may end up being more consequential than they’ve been since Green Party candidate Ralph Nader in 2000. It’s very close, and there is a real possibility they could decide the election. With Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, the onetime Republican governor of New Mexico, at nearly 10 percent and pulling more people who say Clinton is their second choice, Donald Trump may be the beneficiary in the all-important battleground states.
After watching Johnson and his running mate Bill Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, in Wednesday night’s town-hall meeting with Chris Matthews, I think maybe they should let Johnson in the debates so more of these voters could see exactly what they’re voting for. The risk is that while Johnson would reveal himself as a bizarre and ignorant man, he might just make Republican presidential nominee Trump look smart and competent by comparison.
Matthews asked him to name his favorite foreign leader, and Johnson again drew a blank, finally admitting, “I guess I’m having an Aleppo moment.” Unfortunately, the exchange went on and on, with Matthews pushing and Johnson floundering, until Weld finally stepped in to cite Chancellor Angela Merkel as his favorite and the whole thing mercifully came to an end.
When asked by one of the fresh-faced young people in the crowd what he said to people who claim that a vote for Johnson is a wasted vote, the candidate told him, “A wasted vote is a vote for someone you don’t believe in.” Matthews came back with a quote from President Barack Obama from earlier in the day:
"If you don’t vote, that’s a vote for Trump. If you vote for a third-party candidate who’s got no chance to win, that’s a vote for Trump."