Indiana News

Mitch Daniels plays host to Gary Johnson, seeks to include him in debates

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WISH) – The Libertarian candidate for President is at Purdue. Gary Johnson is there to answer questions from Purdue President Mitch Daniels.

The hour-long program takes place as Daniels, in his role as a member of the Presidential Debate Commission, is pushing to see Johnson included in debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Johnson makes no bones about it. He needs a debate invitation. “The only chance I have of getting elected is to be in the Presidential debates,” he said on an Indianapolis visit in June.

But so far only Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are invited.

“America needs to know that those are not the only two choices available,” said Libertarian State Chairman, Joe Hauptmann.

It seemed unlikely until Mitch Daniels suggested a change in the debate rules to include Johnson.

Never mind that Johnson made a memorable gaffe recently on MSNBC when he was asked about the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo.

“And what is Aleppo?” he said.

Daniels was among those who came to his defense.

“Oh, if we we’re gonna disqualify candidates for one comment they’d like to have back, it’d be a very small debate,” he said on MSNBC. “Each of them has made statements over a course of time that I’m sure they regret.”

It gives Libertarians hope. “If Gary actually gets in to debate,” said Hauptmann, “you’re going to see the whole dynamics of this race change.”

Johnson was a two term Governor in New Mexico and Daniels said that is one factor that makes this year different.

And that’s an argument for different debate rules. Currently a candidate must get to 15 percent in the polls to be included. Johnson is polling in a range from 9 to 11 percent, depending on the poll.