ALBUQUERQUE – The Mitt Romney bashing started when I caught up with Gary Johnson as he was doing a walkthrough of his Election Night party Tuesday night.
“It’s just remarkable to me that this is who Republicans put up. This was cast ahead of time. All the criticism of Romney which is that he really is not conservative and then on the social side, it’s a little scary,” Johnson said.
Johnson repeated comments he made earlier in the week that he thought the Romney campaign was doomed to failure.
During the election night party, snide comments from Johnson supporters watching Romney’s early poor showing in states like North Carolina and Virginia could be overheard from my perch at the mostly empty press table.
“I can’t believe he’s losing to this guy! What a bum!”
“How do you not beat Obummer?!”
“Man, Romney is a loser!”
After Ohio was called one Johnson staffer came over to chat about the results coming in from the Midwest states. He couldn’t resist a dig at Romney’s campaign. “We wanted to be spoilers tonight but unfortunately Romney spoiled himself in every swing state,” he laughed.
Another staffer who has worked on Republican campaigns told me as the night was winding down, “I wish the Republicans had us to blame for Romney’s loss.”
A hostile attitude toward the Romney campaign and the GOP permeated the party. There was ill will for the Democrats, too, but it didn’t appear as deeply rooted. The Johnson campaign had problems obtaining ballot access throughout the country, often because of slip-ups, and Republicans were right there waiting to pounce on their mistakes. The ill will harbored by the campaign seems more deeply placed in the lower levels of the operation, among volunteers and supporters, than in the upper echelons.
In the final month of the campaign, Johnson, ever the content libertarian warrior, expressed an attitude of indifference on the outcome of the election, even as Republicans kicked and screamed about him potentially spoiling the race for Romney. Last week in Ohio Johnson told Reason that he didn’t care about the outcome of the election if he didn’t finish on top.
One of Gary Johnson’s regional drivers and body men, Tom Mahon, was disappointed in the result for Johnson. He expected more but didn’t care that Romney lost.
"I am not surprised or disappointed that Romney lost but at the same time I am disappointed that Obama won, so, to me, it was a lose-lose election,” he said. "Romney alienated too many constituencies, from the Ron Paul Republicans to the Latino vote to women, the GOP seems to be on a constant track of becoming more socially conservative."
Some younger Johnson’s supporters in an outdoor smoking area near the hall didn’t even consider voting for Romney.
Ryan Kaszuba, 24, said Johnson was “the only candidate that speaks any sense whatsoever.”
Kate Ayala, 20, said Romney is someone that makes people despise the political process.
“Nothing has felt so right as to go against the flow and really be independent of the majority,” she said.