Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis has ruled out running a third-party bid for president this year, but the troops wish he would.
In a Military Times survey released Tuesday, 52 percent of its readers said Mattis would be a positive influence in the race and 16 percent said his entry would have an negative one. A third said a Mattis campaign would not make a difference.
The survey also showed that 21 percent of those responding said they wouldn’t vote if their only choices were Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
[Don’t Write Off Third-Party Candidates]
Mattis, 65, who Military Times says has a “cult-like following” among the troops for his blunt talk and impressive resumé, turned down overtures to mount a campaign, the New York Times reported , after being courted by conservatives opposed to Trump leading the Republican ticket.
The Times reported that Mattis, who retired as head of the U.S. Central Command in 2013 after a 34-year career, listened to pitches during a visit to Washington in April and that he hadn’t offered himself up as a candidate.
Military Times said it conducted its survey by emailing more than 59,000 active duty, National Guard and military reserve subscribers and 951 respondents completed the survey.
Correction 2 p.m. | An earlier version of this story misidentified Gen. James Mattis.