- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Third-party fever has struck the news media. Not too long ago, appearances and interviews with Libertarian presidential hopeful Gary Johnson were not so common. The press, however, has discovered Mr. Johnson and his vice presidential running mate, William Weld — who pride themselves on being outsiders in a most unusual election.

The pair are now in demand, earning heroic features in such publications as People magazine and The New York Times. All-important Google searches on Mr. Johnson in particular have increased hundredfold since April, the search engine reported. And later this month, the Fox Business Network will broadcast a Libertarian town hall with the two candidates, hosted by John Stossel and set to hammer on the major differences between the Libertarian, Republican and Democratic platforms, along with economic, social and defense issues. This is the network’s second town hall for the hopefuls, and will feature a live audience, voter questions and much social media.

CNN has also hosted two forums for the two former governors, winning a 1.6 million-member audience for the Libertarian team, who bill themselves as “a breath of fresh air in a presidential election that is otherwise consumed by divisive partisan rhetoric.”

Mr. Johnson is a frequent guest speaker; he appears with none other than former President Bill Clinton at a forum organized by Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, set for Friday in Las Vegas. Over 4,000 people are expected; the organization advises that negotiations for an appearance by GOP nominee Donald Trump are in “the final stages.”

Meanwhile, the nominees have been hard at work differentiating their political brand from the competition. Money is arriving. The Johnson/Weld campaign recently took in $1 million in a week’s time, even as strategists monitor national opinion polls, praying that voter support for Mr. Johnson will rise from his current average of 7 percent to 15 percent — and thus qualify him for a spot in the presidential debates, which begin in 36 days.

Will the Johnson campaign get its wish? Politico and other news organizations report that the Presidential Debate Commission is now advising sites that will host the bouts to be prepared for the possibility that a third combatant might join Mr. Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on that giant stage, and before a humongous audience.

FROM THE UH-OH DESK

Carly Fiorina plotting bid to head the Republican National Committee if Trump loses”

— Midafternoon tweet Tuesday from Time magazine.

THE PACE PICKS UP

Between them, GOP nominees Donald Trump and Gov. Mike Pence have 15 campaign events this week in a cross-section of battleground states. But let’s look at Wednesday alone. Mr. Trump will be in Abingdon, Virginia, followed by Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mr. Pence will be in Dayton and Cambridge, both in Ohio.

And while the two gents are out campaigning, reports have surfaced that news organizations that apparently side with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton have resorted to two Hollywood-style special effects to help her. They either don’t show the actual size of the huge crowds that show up to see Mr. Trump, or they don’t reveal how few people are actually in the audience at a Clinton rally.

Is it true? Maybe. But it won’t be the first time. The erosive method was employed years ago. Images of 2008 Republican hopefuls Sen. John McCain and then-running mate Sarah Palin were repeatedly doctored during that presidential race.

“A cottage industry Photoshopping Palin’s famously bespectacled face onto all manner of bodies that aren’t, in fact hers — has arisen,” pointed out the Columbia Journalism Review at the time, noting that the most popular image was a fake picture “of a bikini-clad vice presidential nominee toting a big gun, a big smile, and very little else.” The academic publication also noted that several news organizations ran with the fake photos.

Mr. McCain recalled the trials of his running mate eight years ago. “The only thing I will ever resent about my presidential campaign is her treatment by the media. It was disgraceful,” the lawmaker told CNN earlier this year.

THE AUDIENCE FACTOR

The mainstream news media did not go into overdrive over a singular political and cultural moment: Seddique Mateen, father of Orlando mass shooter Omar Mateen, was a prominent guest at a Tuesday rally for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“Had that been a Trump rally, there would have been mass chaos in the media,” Katrina Pierson, spokeswoman for Donald Trump’s campaign, told CNN in the aftermath.

ONE FOR MR. NIXON

Presidential legacies continue to build over time. The Richard Nixon Foundation is planning three days of celebrations to mark the opening this fall of the New Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California. The events follow a $15 million renovation at the site, which will feature a recreation of the Nixon Oval Office, 30 multimedia experiences and 8,000 square feet of historic wall murals, among other things.

Two of the 37th president’s grandchildren serve as co-chairs for the big doings: Christopher Cox — son of Tricia Nixon Cox and Edward F. Cox — and Melanie Eisenhower, daughter of Julie Nixon Eisenhower and David Eisenhower. They have much enthusiasm for their grandfather.

“There’s much Americans can learn today from President Nixon’s legacy,” says Mr. Cox.

“He was a fascinating man who governed in complicated times,” notes Ms. Eisenhower.

POLL DU JOUR

69 percent of Americans are confident that the federal government will be able to respond effectively to an outbreak of the Zika virus in the U.S.; 65 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents and 79 percent of Democrats agree.

29 percent overall are not confident there will be an effective response; 34 percent of Republicans, 35 percent of independents and 19 percent of Democrats agree.

65 percent overall are not too worried that they or a family member will be infected by Zika; 72 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of independents and 59 percent of Democrats agree.

35 percent overall are worried they or their family will be infected; 28 percent of Republicans, 34 percent of independents and 41 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Washington Post/ABC News poll of 1,002 U.S. adults conducted August 1 to 4.

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