US Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson talks to a crowd of supporters at a rally in Salt Lake City, Utah, August 6, 2016. (AFP photo)
US Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson has received an endorsement from a major newspaper in Virginia, a much-needed boost to the former New Mexico governor’s shaky bid for the White House.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote in a Sunday editorial that it would back Johnson because “neither [Republican nominee] Donald Trump nor [Democratic nominee] Hillary Clinton meets the fundamental moral and professional standards we have every right to expect of an American president.”
Johnson is, "in every respect, a legitimate and reasonable contender for the presidency — but only if the voters give him a fair hearing," the editorial added.
The endorsement came after a meeting between Johnson and the paper’s editorial board last week.
By supporting Johnson, the newspaper broke its tradition of supporting the Republican ticket, as it did with Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008.
The development can help Johnson appeal to more voters and build on a momentum that has been created for third-party candidates due to Trump and Clinton’s unprecedented unpopularity.
An Associated Press-GfK poll released in July found that 81 percent of US voters were worried by the idea of a Clinton or Trump presidency.
Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein have enjoyed a surge in support in this cycle, compared to their 2012 campaigns.
This has given them a better chance to reach the 15-percent polling threshold set to make presidential debates in autumn.
Both third-party candidates have blasted the rule that has been in place since the 2000 election cycle and requires each candidate to reach 15 percent support in an average of five national polls before qualifying for the debates.
“If you’re not in the presidential debate, there’s no way you’re going to win the presidency, given that the first presidential debate is estimated to garner more viewership than the Super Bowl,” Johnson said in late August.
The issue was also pointed out in the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s endorsement editorial, which concluded, “if given the opportunity to make his case, Gary Johnson will persuade millions of Americans that he is the most capable and ethical candidate running this year.”