While Republican and Democratic candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, respectively, receive most of the press surrounding the upcoming US presidential election, alternatives exist. Though the Green and Libertarian parties are traditionally left out of national debates, rising poll numbers may mean a third party candidate could appear on stage with the big shots.
"With [former Gov.] Gary Johnson polling in some places more than double digits, they might have, some of our production people have said, 'Just in case, you need to plan out what that might look like,'" Commission on Presidential Debates co-chair Mike McCurry told Politico.
"We won’t know the number of invitations we extend until mid-September."
While Johnson is likely drawing in Republican voters turned off by Trump, many Democrats are equally dissatisfied with Clinton’s nomination. Some on the left have turned to Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who they claim represents the progressive views of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders better than Clinton.
"I think the time is now for all the movements together to proceed with supporting third party candidates. Third parties should not be seen as a poor alternative, we are the real alternative," Gloria La Riva, of the Party for Socialism and Liberalism, told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear.
"It’s necessary to keep on this fight in this most critical of elections where the billionaires and the millionaires always win and the people lose. But our fight will continue to grow."
It remains unclear whether both major party candidates will participate in debates. The Trump campaign has used the proposed debate schedule as an excuse to hint that the Republican may back out.
"Our posture is we design something we think is in the best interest of American citizens. It’s based on a lot of experience over time and we kind of set the table for the candidates and expect them to show up," McMurry said.
The Clinton campaign has already formally accepted the debate invitation.
"Secretary Clinton looks forward to participating in all three presidential debates scheduled by the independent debate commission," campaign chairman John Podesta said in a statement. "With so much at stake in the fall elections, she believes these debates will provide the American people with an important opportunity to hear from the candidates on issues critical to the country’s future."
Even if Trump backs out, Clinton may still have someone to speak with.