Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for president, spoke up in favor of a third-party ticket Wednesday night, telling his 1.8 million Twitter followers that he wanted to see Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and his running mate, William Weld, in the coming presidential debates.
It was the former Massachusetts governor's first tweet of any kind in two months. In that time, Romney repeatedly rebuffed efforts to be drafted as a third-party candidate, and Johnson and Weld — the former governors of New Mexico and Massachusetts, respectively — have edged up in public polling and hinted that Romney might endorse them.
"We have spoken with him," Johnson said during an interview with USA Today at the Democratic National Convention. "I appreciate how someone who has been an elected Republican or Democrat or is elected in those positions, how difficult it is to cross over that line."
Earlier, at his annual forum for Republican leaders and donors in Utah, Romney suggested that he could vote for the Libertarians if Weld was the presidential nominee and Johnson was his running mate. But a spokesman for Romney confirmed tonight that his tweet was not an endorsement.
Evan McMullin, a first-time candidate who is running as the avatar of #NeverTrump conservatives, shares Romney's faith and is making a play for Utah. But he is on relatively few state ballots, making it nigh impossible for him to reach the 15 percent national polling threshold that determines access to the presidential debates. In an average of the polls that the Commission on Presidential Debates is using, Johnson is in the high single digits. Separately, polls by Quinnipiac University and Morning Consult have found more than 50 percent of voters supportive of at least a three-way debate.