Gary Johnson Makes Big Push For Presidential Debates As Trump Implodes

Gary Johnson is making an all-out push to be included in the main presidential debates this fall. The Libertarian presidential nominee must reach at least 15 percent in national polls to secure a place at the podium.

Johnson, the former GOP governor of New Mexico, is currently hovering around 10 percent in polls, but Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s free-fall in popularity has opened up a tantalizing opportunity for the third-party candidate.

U.S. News & World Report noted that Johnson can make waves on August 26 when he and his vice presidential running mate William Weld appear at a town hall meeting on Fox Business Network. As Americans are increasingly turned off by Trump’s outlandish rhetoric, Johnson’s mild-mannered style and political platform could grab the attention of voters.

Gary Johnson’s platform is built around socially liberal, fiscally conservative policies, which could be attractive to the high numbers of Americans who find both Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton unappealing. The Washington Times noted the Libertarian town halls hosted by CNN earlier this summer pulled in 1.6 million viewers. If the Fox town hall, which will feature a live audience with voter questions, pulls in similar numbers, it could propel Johnson in the polls and help him reach his 15 percent goal.

Google searches for Gary Johnson have skyrocketed since April, and money is starting to pour in. Johnson’s campaign recently reported a $1 million one-week haul, and on Monday, Johnson reported that more than 40,000 people have pledged to donate at least $15 to his campaign on August 15. His campaign hopes the one-day “money bomb” will bring in millions he can use to fund a comprehensive state-by-state ad campaign.

Gary Johnson’s push to qualify for the national presidential debates comes at a time when Republicans are deserting Donald Trump in droves. As the Huffington Post reported, Trump followed up his dark and divisive Republican National Convention acceptance speech with a disastrous week that included attacking Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose son Humayun Khan was killed in Iraq in 2014, claiming Vladimir Putin wouldn’t invade Ukraine when he already has, and kicking a crying baby out of a rally.

However, Trump’s latest gaff may be the one that sends voters clamoring for Gary Johnson. As the New York Times reported, during a rally in North Carolina on Tuesday, Trump seemed to suggest that gun enthusiasts could assassinate Clinton if she won the election.

“By the way, and if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Trump insisted he was joking, but the U.S. Secret Service tweeted that it was “aware” of the remark.

Johnson running mate William Weld responded to the incendiary comment in a quote to the Washington Times.

“If this were a remark by a non-candidate, and she was in office, it would definitely be investigated as a threat against the president, and I will say so.”

Even before Trump made that remark, the New York Times reported 50 Republican national security experts, including many former members of the George W. Bush administration, signed an open letter declaring they would not vote for the billionaire, saying he “would be the most reckless president in American history.”

Meanwhile, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll indicates that one-in-five Republicans want Trump to drop out of the presidential race, and 63 percent of registered voters have a negative view of him.

The fallout presents a golden opportunity for Gary Johnson to breakthrough on a national level. A Johnson spokesperson told U.S. News & World Report that the Libertarian offers “a positive, productive, and independent alternative to the Hillary and Trump shouting match.”

Johnson will continue making his case this Friday, when he is scheduled to appear alongside former President Bill Clinton at a forum in Las Vegas sponsored by Asian and Pacific Islander Vote. More than 4,000 people are expected to attend.

Do you think Gary Johnson will garner enough voter support to take part in the presidential debates? Are you going to watch Johnson’s August 26 town hall on Fox Business Network?

[Photo by George Frey/Getty Images]