If running for president is a popularity contest, our two leading candidates are struggling to break into the cool crowd. Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are two of the most unpopular major party candidates in history.
With their unfavorable ratings polling high, many voters are looking for alternatives to staying home on November 8. The leading option in the polls is the Libertarian ticket with former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson averaging around 9% nationally. His running mate is the former Republican Governor of the mostly Democratic Massachusetts, Bill Weld.
Together, Johnson and Weld are crisscrossing the US aiming to get their poll numbers to 15% so they can join the televised debates this fall.
Johnson has said the debates are make-or-break for the Libertarian ticket. Weld thinks the two have momentum heading into the post-Labor Day push and predicts “national outrage if we are very, very close and don’t get in because people want to hear alternatives.”
Weld stopped by Yahoo’s offices in New York City between fundraising calls and a nationally televised town hall. He and Johnson have been friendly since they were both governors in the 1990s and as Weld put it “were members of a mutual admiration society.” Now Weld calls his running mate “painfully honest” — kind words from the competitive Weld, considering Johnson had just beaten him in a game of chess.
The only presidential candidates to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Johnson and Weld see free trade as a key to new high wage jobs. “We’re always going to be net winners in free trade,” Weld says. They want more competition in the health care marketplace as well, but aren’t for an immediate repeal of Obamacare.
Weld describes the Libertarian ticket as “fiscally responsible” and “socially tolerant.” As for his old party — the GOP — Weld says “nobody would confuse them with being socially welcoming … they made a point of making their platform meaner in Cleveland than it was before.”
In case you had any doubt, Weld says he’s not going back to being a Republican: “I made my bed and I’m going to lie on it.”