Hillary Clinton, and her most powerful surrogates, launched a new line of attack Wednesday, aimed not at her Republican opponent, but at third party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson.
The Clinton campaign is, according to The Hill, concerned that millennials and “left-leaning” independents—voter demographics she desperately needs—are turning increasingly to Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, particularly in key swing states. Already struggling to get the same millennial support Barack Obama did, Clinton’s campaign headquarters seems to be fully freaking out.
The campaign has reportedly called out its liberal allies to push material they feel is damaging to Johnson on social media, and is planning to pour money into anti-Johnson ads in swing states.
They’re also calling out the big guns to convince millennials who are using a vote for Johnson or Stein as a protest vote against the two major parties that they’re actively subverting the democratic process.
“Young voters are suggesting that they’re uncomfortable with Clinton and are using Johnson and Stein as protest votes,” Douglas Schoen, a former Bill Clinton staffer, told The Hill. “The campaign must make the case that unless young people vote for Clinton, they’re effectively voting for Trump.”
So far, Clinton has pulled in Nancy Pelosi, who told reporters on Wednesday that Clinton “couldn’t afford” a narrow victory, and accused third-party voters of “keeping the race close.” President Obama himself told radio host Steve Harvey Wednesday morning that, ““If you don’t vote, that’s a vote for Trump…If you vote for a third-party candidate who’s got no chance to win, that’s a vote for Trump.”
Clinton allies in the media are launching their own attacks, largely on Jill Stein who is polling at only 3%, but whose supporters are almost uniformly progressive Democrats.
What makes Jill Stein no better than Donald Trump. https://t.co/r5V0mcNEk1
— Jonathan Capehart (@CapehartJ) September 19, 2016
It’s shocking that any major party candidate would be “punching down” on third parties this late in the game. With only 40 days to go, its clear Clinton’s team clearly feels they’re in serious trouble if they don’t have a comfortable margin come November, and will do just about anything to claim those votes, even if it means pushing third parties out of the race.