- The Washington Times - Friday, September 2, 2016

Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson plans to roll out television ads in targeted states next week as part of a post-Labor Day blitz aimed at ensuring that the former New Mexico governor has strong enough poll numbers to participate in the presidential debates.

The television ads are part of a $3.8 million push from the Johnson campaign that has included radio ads that are currently running in 15 states and on nationally syndicated talk radio shows.

Mr. Johnson and his running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, must have a national polling average of at least 15 percent to get a spot on stage next to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump, who are expected to easily meet the criteria set by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Mr. Johnson faces an uphill battle.

The Real Clear Politics Average of national polls shows Mrs. Clinton leading Mr. Trump by a 41 percent to 38 percent margin, followed by Mr. Johnson, 8 percent, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, 3.1 percent.

The Johnson campaign’ website has him polling at 10.2 percent nationally.

“We believe and are confident that being up on the air in that fashion will begin to move numbers,” said Joe Hunter, a campaign spokesman. “The reality is that even with all we’ve done through earned media, the majority of voters still don’t know Gary Johnson and Gov. Weld, and what we find is once they know them they do quite well.”

The stakes are high for Mr. Johnson.

Indeed, he has said that if he does not make the debate stage it is “game over” as far as his chances of winning the presidential race.

The first presidential debate is scheduled to be held Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in New York, followed by candidate face-offs in St. Louis on Oct. 9 and Las Vegas on Oct. 19.

A vice presidential debate is penciled in for Oct. 4 at Longwood University in Virginia.

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