Obama Says Backing Third-Party Candidate Is ‘a Vote for Trump’

The First 2016 Presidential Debate in Three Minutes
  • He warns against supporting someone with ‘no chance to win’
  • Trump polls better in four-way race than against Clinton alone

President Barack Obama warned in a radio interview on Wednesday that Americans who vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein in November risk putting Donald Trump into the White House, as he sought to blunt momentum for third-party candidates.

“If you don’t vote, that’s a vote for Trump,” Obama said in an interview on the Steve Harvey Morning Show. “If you vote for a third-party candidate who’s got no chance to win, that’s a vote for Trump.”

The president, who is slated to spend much of the next several weeks campaigning for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, made a direct personal appeal to voters who propelled him to office in an attempt to boost enthusiasm for his former secretary of State. He also assailed Trump’s performance in his first debate against Clinton on Monday, saying the Republican nominee “doesn’t know basic facts” and again calling him unqualified for the presidency.

The syndicated radio show airs on more than 60 stations, mostly in urban communities with large black populations.

Johnson, Clinton

Johnson, a former Republican governor of New Mexico, in particular appears to be drawing support from Clinton. While she holds about a 2.3 percentage-point advantage over Trump in an average of head-to-head polls calculated by RealClearPolitics, her lead falls to about 1.6 percentage points when Johnson and Stein are included. Johnson is supported by about 7.4 percent of voters, on average, and Stein by about 2.4 percent, according to RealClearPolitics.

Democrats have also worried that a drop in turnout among black voters and young people could make it harder for Clinton to win in several swing states. Trump has spent weeks making an overt appeal to minority voters, saying Clinton sees them only as votes and doesn’t care about their issues.

“My legacy’s on the ballot,” Obama said. “I don’t want anybody to stay home thinking this is any less important than 2008 or 2012.”

The president used the example of the period between the Civil War and the civil rights movement to argue that progress he has achieved as the first black president could be rolled back by a Trump administration.

Machado Criticism

Reflecting on Monday’s debate, he sought to contrast the performances of Clinton and Trump, saying the Republican “doesn’t do his homework.”

He attacked Trump for saying he was “smart” to avoid paying taxes and that it was “business” when Trump said in 2006 that he hoped the housing market would collapse and provide real-estate investment opportunities. Obama also criticized Trump for his comments about a former Miss Universe pageant winner. Trump said on Tuesday that the 1996 Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, had “gained a massive amount of weight” after she won.

“You had somebody who basically insulted women and then doubled down on it,” Obama said. Trump, he said, “talks about their weight and how they look instead of the content of their character and their capabilities.”

Machado has become a supporter and surrogate for Clinton, and has struck back at Trump, calling him “rude” and “a bad person” in an interview on CNN on Tuesday.

Sexism may be hurting Clinton’s campaign as well, Obama said.

“People just do not give her credit,” he said. “And part of it may be because she’s a woman, and we have not elected a woman president before.”

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