In a strong rebuttal of the Republican Party’s nomination of Donald Trump as its presidential nominee, Cornell University Republicans endorsed Libertarian Gary Johnson for president on Friday.
The endorsement comes at a particularly important time for Johnson, who is hoping for a final surge in his national poll numbers to help him clinch the 15 percent he needs to stand alongside Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the first presidential debate to be held on September 26 in New York. Over the period of the last month, the Libertarian candidate has seen his poll numbers go steadily up in a number of traditionally conservative states, and while a chance at the White House still remains a long shot for Johnson, he will no doubt be buoyed by the recent endorsement extended to him by Cornell University Republicans.
It is a move both bold and unprecedented, as it is extremely rare for a group affiliated to a political party to endorse a candidate outside the same party. But the 2016 election season has seen a departure from all the tenets that went into defining the contours of the previous American presidential races. Moreover, Donald Trump — not unlike Hillary Clinton — is disliked by a major group of supporters within the ranks of his own party, and considered in this context, the Cornell University Republicans’ endorsement of Gary Johnson could be perceived a further indictment of Trump, and by extension, the current state of affairs at the Republican Party.
— Christopher Tetta (@christetta) September 2, 2016
In a statement that the group released on Friday, the Cornell Republicans slammed Trump’s “visceral rhetoric and angry demeanor,” adding that Gary Johnson represented everything that was core to the Republican values.
“This election’s unprecedented nature has made blind commitment to our Party unpalatable. The Cornell Republicans cannot, in good faith, endorse our party’s nominee. Mr. Trump should not be the face of American conservatism. Instead, we are proud to endorse the true conservative in this election: Gary Johnson.
“Governor Johnson’s commitment to fiscal conservatism is unparalleled. Governing a blue state, he shrunk the size of the government, balanced the state’s budget, and never increased taxes. While we do not agree with all of his positions, we firmly support his devotion to free trade, states’ rights, and other conservative principles.
“His straight candor and polite conduct contrast with Mr. Trump’s visceral rhetoric and angry demeanor. When Mr. Trump insults our war heroes, Governor Johnson enjoys high support among active-duty troops. When Secretary Clinton refuses to meet the press, Governor Johnson fields questions on his policy record. He offers real solutions to our country’s problems. Joined by Bill Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, the Libertarian ticket offers experienced, conservative solutions based on ideas of the free market and limited government.”
Further arguing that American voters — on either side of the major-party spectrum — should reject the “lesser of the two evils” theory, the Cornell Republicans said in the statement that they will push all their weight behind helping Gary Johnson reach the 15 percent figure before the first presidential debate.
This is not the first time that a group of Republicans at a major university have refused to endorse Donald Trump, although it is the first time that a University group affiliated to a major party has endorsed a third-party candidate. Last month, Harvard University Republicans had refused to rally behind Trump, citing pretty much the same reasons given by their Cornell counterparts, as reported by Bloomberg. That group had gone so far as to suggest that endorsing or voting for Trump was akin to posing a “threat on the survival of the [American] republic.”
The Cornell endorsement is set to boost Gary Johnson, who, as latest polls show, is not faring badly against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and if things turn out the way the Libertarian candidate would want in the next couple of weeks, we might be seeing three presidential candidates battle it out in the last week of September.
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