Libertarians on the Air: Stossel to Host Townhall

Phelan M. Ebenhack via AP
Phelan M. Ebenhack via AP

Libertarian candidates Gary Johnson and William Weld hold their third nationally televised Townhall tonight, moderated by John Stossel and televised on the FOX Business network at 9 pm.

Earlier this week Stossel endorsed the ticket on the FOX website, arguing that Johnson and Weld were a “much better” choice than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

As with previous Townhalls, Johnson campaign supporters around the country are holding viewing parties, listed on Facebook and other social media.

The previous two Libertarian Townhalls were aired on CNN and moderated by Chris Cuomo. CNN also aired one Townhall with Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Johnson has been showing up in many national polls at around 10 percent, Stein at around 5 percent.

This weekend also brings the launch of a national television advertising campaign by an independent Super PAC, the Purple PAC, run by former CATO Institute president Ed Crane. Crane was the campaign manager for the 1980 Libertarian presidential campaign of California lawyer Ed Clark and his vice presidential running mate David Koch.

David and Charles Koch are not donors to the Purple PAC, which has only four major donors and has only purchased TV ads once before, in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial campaign for Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis (who ended up with over 5 percent of the vote).

The ads will run 25 times on CNN and 25 times on FOX between today and Monday. The $1 million for the ad buy comes from a donation from Philadelphia stock options trader Jeff Yass. Yass’s donation history is tri-partisan, including Libertarians as well as Republicans such as Senator Rand Paul, Congressman Justin Amash, Senator Tom Cotton, Senator Ted Cruz, and Senator Jim DeMint, and Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden. He’s also donated, in 2008, to Hillary Clinton.

The Johnson campaign itself has not yet planned any television advertising buys, and has raised less than $3 million to date.

One likely question tonight will be on carbon taxes and policies related to climate change. Earlier this week Governor Johnson told CNBC that he believe in a “fee” on carbon, but then said at a rally in Concord, New Hampshire that he opposed carbon taxes.

Today the two former Governors hold events in Maine, before continuing a series of events they have been holding around the country with a rally in Boston Saturday afternoon.

The Libertarian ticket expects to be on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with 560 plus candidates running for federal, state, and local offices. Green Party candidate Jill Stein may reach 40 state ballots and approximately 140 other Green Party candidates are running nationwide.

Polls show that Johnson and Stein pull votes from both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, including some former supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders.