Las Vegas—In 1980 Ed Clark became the only presidential candidate in the history of the Libertarian Party to crack 1 percent in an election and since then the party has struggled to come close to that high-water mark. In fairness to the other Libertarians that have run for president, Clark's campaign was buoyed by the personal fortune of industrial titan and current Reason Foundation board member David Koch. Current Libertarian Party front runner Gary Johnson may not have the deep pockets of the Clark/Koch ticket but Clark sees huge potential in Johnson's candidacy and the future of the LP.
"I expect that he will do four or five times better than I did," said Clark, in a brief interview outside the convention hall.
Clark, accompanied by his wife Alicia, said he sees many similarities between his candidacy in 1980 and Johnson's in 2012.
"I think this year is like 1980, which was a tremendous year for Libertarians. Everybody was turned off by the government because of Vietnam, people were turned off by the inflation of the 70s, and people in California were turned on to the thought of small government by Prop 13. That made a lot of people available for another alternative in 1980. I think there is the same potential here. I think Gary has the personality, the character, and the background to do it," he said.
The prospect of Johnson doing well in 2012, and possibly running again in 2016, is even more exciting to Clark because the party has strong state parties and an organization that did not exist when he ran. Clark thinks the party has to capitalize on the current political climate, and the only way to do that is with Johnson.
"To establish the Libertarian Party as an alternative in this election, I think, really opens the door for fantastic opportunities four years from now," Clark said.