The first presidential debate is quickly approaching and it will only feature a two-person stage. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who didn't qualify for the debate, said Sunday he missed out because the system is "rigged."
Scheduled to take place Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, the first presidential debate has been planned to start at about 9 p.m. EDT and last until about 10:30 p.m. EDT. The event will feature the candidates from the two major political parties: Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her Republican counterpart Donald Trump. Notably absent will be Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who did not reach the polling minimum average of 15 percent nationally to be included.
The non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced Friday that only Clinton (43 percent) and Trump (40.4 percent) had registered enough support, with Johnson earning just 8.4 percent and Stein garnering 3.2 percent.
"It’s a rigged game, man," Johnson said in a news conference over the weekend. "Democrats and Republicans make up the presidential debate commission, 15 percent is not the law. It’s Democrats and Republicans not wanting a Ross Perot on the stage again."
Johnson, a former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico who is running with former Republican Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, had previously said the debates were absolutely necessary for him to have any chance at winning the presidency.
"The object is to win outright," Johnson said during an Fox News appearance in August. "And it’s not impossible if we go into the presidential debates with the polarization of Clinton and Trump that we might actually run the table on all of this."
Meanwhile, Trump has begun to complain about the moderators about a week out from the debate, saying media members want to avoid the sort of criticism aimed at Matt Lauer, who some believed wasn't hard enough on the Republican nominee during a presidential forum.
"It’s called gaming the system," Trump said to Fox News. "Like Bobby Knight, he would hit the referee, well they're hitting Matt Lauer and they're trying to game the system, they want, and I think it's terrible but they want the host to go after Trump."
There are two more debates scheduled after the first event on Sept. 26: One on Oct. 9 in St. Louis and another Oct. 19 in Las Vegas. Johnson or Stein could qualify for the next debates if their polling numbers improve enough to hit 15 percent.