The Libertarian candidate picked up backing from a traditionally Republican paper
The editorial board declined to back either GOP nominee Donald Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton
Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson received the endorsement of a prominent Virginia paper in an editorial posted Saturday night, notching a Labor Day weekend win for his third party bid.
The glowing appraisal of Johnson’s candidacy by the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s editorial board contrasts the former New Mexico governor with Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic standard-bearer Hillary Clinton, both of whom lack the proper character traits to be president, the paper said.
“Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton meets the fundamental moral and professional standards we have every right to expect of an American president,” the editorial board writes.
The editorial board’s backing of Johnson is also a break in its partisan leanings, as it has endorsed Republican candidates in every presidential election for the past 36 years.
Johnson performed poorly in Virginia during his 2012 effort, securing less than one percent of the state’s vote. The ex-governor has said he hopes to break out this year due to the low favorability ratings for Trump and Clinton, and the paper followed that line of thinking.
The editorial also called for Johnson to join the nationally-televised debates alongside Trump and Clinton. The former governor has said repeatedly that he needs to make the general election debates to have any realistic chance at the White House. The presidential debate commission requires a candidate to reach an average of 15 percent in the polls it has selected.
Johnson must rapidly improve his position to meet this threshold. CNN’s latest poll of polls found Johnson sitting at an average of 9 percent nationwide, and a Quinnipiac poll from mid-August had Johnson at 12 percent in Virginia.