The Commission on Presidential Debates insists on a 15 percent polling threshold to qualify for the presidential debates. For the two leading third-party candidates, the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson and Green Party's Jill Stein, all hopes of making it to the first debate on Sept. 26 are exhausted. Johnson has been poling between 8 and 9 percent, while Stein has hovered around 3 percent. The chances of either of them being summoned for any upcoming debates seem pretty bleak, unless there's a sudden surge of support in the next few days. Johnson won't be at the debate, but he's got his sights set on the second debate.
Johnson doesn't think the threshold is fair, and once news broke of his ineligibility to partake in the event, he voiced his opinion in a news conference in Seattle: "It's a rigged game, man. Democrats and Republicans make up the presidential debate commission, 15 percent is not the law. It's Democrats and Republicans not wanting a Ross Perot on the stage again."
In an interview with CNN, Johnson didn't seem to think all hope was lost. Sure, he lost the first round, but he's still holding out hope for the second and third debates.
"The clock still ticks," Johnson said on CNN's Reliable Sources on Sept. 18. "My partner, fiancée, best friend Kate, she said, 'Gary, this is just your luck, you don't have to hassle with the first debate and you're still going to get elected President.'" When asked if his goal was to make it on stage for the October debates, Johnson thought it likely: "Well sure, you know the clock does keep on ticking." Whether the poll numbers tick or not is what Johnson needs to keep an eye on.
Johnson has mostly flown under the radar, until his recent Aleppo gaffe where he revealed he didn't know where it is or even what it is. It was a pretty ridiculous moment for the candidate. And then he stumbled again when he mistakenly claimed that nobody got hurt in the New York and New Jersey bombings. While there were no deaths, a total of 38 people were injured.
Johnson won't be taking the debate stage on Monday night and with his recent stumbles, which have no doubt caused question marks to hang over his presidential legitimacy, it would have been interesting to see him handle the stage amid Trump and Clinton. But there are still the October debates to look forward to, which Johnson certainly is.