Libertarian VP Candidate Bill Weld May Be As Concerned About Protest Votes As The Rest Of Us

After Tuesday's vice presidential debate, pundits are still discussing the fallout of a tussle between two suburban dads in Farmville, Virginia. But while more than 40 million people watched the debate, the biggest news coming from a vice presidential nominee Tuesday might have come from a man who wasn't on the stage. Bill Weld, the Libertarian Party's vice presidential nominee, told The Boston Globe yesterday that his current priority is stopping a Donald Trump presidency, more even than his commitment to the Libertarian ticket he's currently on.

"I think Mr. Trump's proposals in the foreign policy area, including nuclear proliferation, tariffs, and free trade, would be so hurtful, domestically and in the world, that he has my full attention," Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts, told The Boston Globe.

To many, Weld has long seemed a strange fit for the party and ticket he's campaigning for this election cycle. Compared to his running mate Gary Johnson's fun-loving anti-establishment vibe, Weld is a veteran pol who personally knows Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney and presents himself as the respectable, business-friendly alternative who is socially liberal.

And based on some of the recent comments Weld has made about the major party candidates, it was already clear that he much preferred Clinton becoming president rather than Trump:

Boston Herald on YouTube

But despite Weld's hope to put Trump, as he said in the above MSNBC interview, in "third place," the polling so far suggests that the Libertarian ticket could actually be just as likely to cause the opposite. The Johnson-Weld ticket has been polling extremely well among millennials. Young people have so far shown little taste for Trump, but they still don't seem ready to support Clinton in anything like the numbers they supported President Obama — which means an important piece of the Democrats' winning coalition is missing.

It's gotten to the point that Next Gen Climate, a political activism group that supports candidates with plans to fight climate change, has begun running attack ads on Johnson, directly geared towards millennials:

NextGen America on YouTube

Somewhere along the line, Weld seems to have joined in feeling that his candidacy could usher in the worst of all outcomes. And while it's still not clear what Weld's decision to stop Trump means — he told The Boston Globe he wouldn't be dropping off the Libertarian ticket — it's perhaps a sign that the third-party surge we've seen this year may actually begin to fade as the seriousness of the choice becomes apparent.

As the election has gotten closer and the possibility of a Trump presidency has become less hypothetical, many commentators have taken to berating millennials for the concept of a "protest vote," saying that the stakes are too high to vote for a third-party candidate. In the crazy 2016 election, it seems one of those third-party candidates could actually agree.