The Commission on Presidential Debates invited Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to the first presidential debate. As a result of their inclusion, their respective running mates, Senator Tim Kaine and Governor Mike Pence, will take part in the vice presidential debate.
Excluded from the debate is former Governor Gary Johnson (L) and Dr. Jill Stein, along with their respective running mates.
The Commission has three qualifications to be invited to the debate. First, the candidate must meet the constitutional eligibility requirements for the presidency. Second, the candidate must be on enough state ballots to have a mathematical chance of reaching 270 electoral votes.
The four were the only ones to meet the first two qualifications, but Stein and Johnson failed to hit the 15% national polling threshold that is required for an invitation. The polling threshold has effectively worked to keep out the Libertarian and Green Parties.
Johnson has been hovering around 9%, although the Commission pegged him at 8.4%. Johnson had bought a full page ad in the New York Times the prior day, asking to be included in spite of his lower poll numbers.
The Libertarian Party blasted the announcement and called the first debate “irrelevant” in a release.
“Not having Gov. Johnson on the stage for the first debate turns it from the Super Bowl of politics into the Pro Bowl of politics; boring and unwatchable,” Libertarian Party chair Nicholas Sarwark said in a statement.
“In their attempt to bolster the chances of the two most hated presidential candidates in American history, the Commission’s decision makes a mockery of their stated mission to ‘provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners.”
Johnson, in a released statement, blasted the Commission as run by Democrats and Republicans, which it is, and vowed to fight on.
“There are more polls and more debates, and we plan to be on the debate stage in October.”