Last night, September 18, 2016, the CBS News show 60 Minutes featured Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson and his Vice-Presidential running mate Bill Weld. Both two-term governors of their respective states are polling anywhere from 8 to 13 percent nationally with about 70 percent of Americans not even knowing who they are. Johnson, along with Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, are the only three presidential candidates who will be on the ballot in all 50 states. Though Johnson will not be in the first presidential debate happening on September 26, 2016, if his national poll numbers reach 15 percent, he is expected to be in the second and third debates.
The main challenge the Johnson campaign has faced is the news media not treating him as a credible, equal candidate to Trump and Clinton. Johnson is qualified, credible and capable. Though he has had far more media than any other Libertarian presidential nominee, Johnson is rarely mentioned alongside the Democrat and Republican when newscasters discuss the 2016 presidential election. For example, this morning when the mainstream media talk of the bombing that happened over the weekend in New York and the knife attack in Minnesota, newscasters talk of Trump and Clinton’s public statements but never mention Johnson’s public statement concerning the bombings which, like the other two candidates, was readily available for the news media. This purposeful exclusionary tactic is not good journalism and is the main reason the bulk of Americans do not know who Gary Johnson is. So, while eight million people were exposed to Johnson on last night’s 60 Minutes program, it is up to the general media to include him in regular newscasts. Instead, the mainstream media wastes hours of valuable airtime talking about the “birther” movement (where Barack Obama was born) when Trump tried to put a stop to it this past Friday. That was airtime that could have been spent on more substantive issues and including Gary Johnson so Americans can learn more about him.
Interviewing for 60 Minutes, Steve Kroft, started off stating the two have less than a one percent chance of winning and Johnson’s response was “I think Donald Trump started off that way. As crazy as this election season is, I think it could be the ultimate crazy, and that is that the two of us actually do get elected.” The interview continued to go well for Johnson and Weld as it showed, unlike Clinton and Trump, they were forthcoming, transparent and do not lie. During the interview, Kroft said, “You’re acknowledging your campaign has some flaws.” To which Johnson replied, “As do all candidacies.” For Kroft, it was refreshing, and he said, “I don’t remember a presidential candidate admitting that.” Johnson replied, “That is the difference here, that is what you’re going to buy into is that it will be transparent and there is no quicker way to fix mistakes than actually acknowledging them in the first place.”
During the interview, Weld stated, “It happens, Steve, if people do think for themselves and focus on the choices available because the polling shows that nationally people do tend to agree with our approach. As Gary sometimes says, you’re a libertarian. You just don’t know it yet.”
Johnson and Weld certainly are credible candidates as both have had the executive experience being popular two-term governors of New Mexico and Massachusetts, respectively. With 50 million social media followers, the Johnson campaign has been able to recently receive millions in donations, mostly small donations from their supporters. As support for their campaign grows, it is unknown if it is too little, too late. But all bets are off if Johnson is able to rise in the polls enough to be included the last two of the three presidential debates.