The Libertarian presidential ticket, which is on track to narrowly miss the polling threshold for the first televised debate, earned its third robust newspaper endorsement: New Hampshire's Union Leader.
"Electing a third party President might be just the ticket to snapping a squabbling Congress out of its partisanship," wrote the newspaper's publisher, Joe McQuaid, in an editorial that — as usual — will appear on the front page. "Both Republicans and Democrats would be independent of the White House, and freer to debate issues apart from tribal loyalties. Restoration of these checks and balances might be the most promising benefit of a [Gary] Johnson presidency."
The Union Leader has endorsed Republicans for president — and only Republicans — since it was created in 1913 as a merger between two competing Manchester newspapers. But as McQuaid noted, two other Republican-leaning newspapers have endorsed the Gary Johnson/Bill Weld ticket after some throat-clearing about the demerits of the major parties. The Richmond Times-Dispatch went first, arguing that Johnson deserved a place on the debate stage after acing an editorial board interview.
"We found him to be knowledgeable but unscripted, reasonable and good-humored, self-assured but free from arrogance, willing and able to address every question, consistent in his beliefs without being dogmatic, even-tempered, curious — and in all respects optimistically, realistically presidential," said the paper's editors.
Days later, Johnson experienced one of the biggest coverage spikes of his campaign, after blanking when MSNBC's Mike Barnicle asked what he would do about the Syrian city of Aleppo. Despite a quick apology ("For those that believe this is a disqualifier, so be it," he said on "The View"), Johnson drew speedy condemnation from the likes of New Yorker editor-in-chief David Remnick. Yet just days later, North Carolina's Winston-Salem Journal endorsed him; a week later came the Union Leader.