STREETSBORO, Ohio—Gary Johnson would like to win on Tuesday but if he's not on top when all the votes are counted he doesn't care who is.
In the closing days of his run for president, the Libertarian nominee has more than embraced the spoiler arguments he is bombarded with daily. It started when he was on his swing through northeast college campus. It accelerated at the Free and Equal debates in Chicago and in Boulder, Colorado on his final Mountain West tour. Now, here at the last stop on his fifth and final tour of the most crucial of 2012 swing states, he has reached the point where he is almost gleeful over being seen as throwing a giant monkey wrench into what happens on Election Day.
"Whichever candidate I make lose that would be terrific because that would open a debate and a discussion over the two parties and what really is the difference between the two: It's not much., it's really not much at all," he said in an interview with reporters before going on stage.
"I just want to make it clear: more liberal than Obama when it comes to civil liberties and more conservative than Romney when it comes to dollars and cents. That said, I don't care what happens, I really don't," he said.
Johnson has been under relentless attacks from conservatives for his candidacy because they claim his presence in the race will cost Mitt Romney the election. Comparisons have been made to Johnson's run and Ralph Nader's 2000 Green Party candidacy. Johnson doesn't see it that way, arguing he takes equally from both candidates and in different states.
His closing argument is that President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have failed to address a series of issues, some more mainstream and others more important to libertarians.
Obama, Johnson says, is a great speaker and agrees with a lot of what he says but in practice he's been a failure on things like the budget, foreign policy, and, in particular, the war on drugs.
"I never believed that he would balance the budget, I never believed that he would cut federal spending but he did say those things and he continues to say those things. I did believe him that when it came to war I thought that our military intervention would be scaled way back but he is as militaristic a president we have ever had. The military interventions right now are at an absolute high," Johnson said.
Romney, he says, is a nice guy with a great business acumen but he's just wrong on immigration and his ideas on the federal budget are detached from reality.
"Mitt Romney is a smart guy but with a straight face he says 'we need to balance the federal budget, hold Medicare intact, and increase spending for the military. It doesn't add up," he said.
Most of these, in some way, could be solved or at least addressed if the Fair Tax was implemented, Johnson argues, yet that's something neither candidate even considers.
Johnson implored the 700-plus gathered to bring their friends to the polls and encouraged them to convince others that a vote for Romney or Obama is truly a wasted vote.
"Wasting your vote is voting for somebody you don't believe in. Vote for the preson you believe in, that is how we change things in this country," he said.
"If either Obama or Romney are elected we're gonna find ourselves with a greater police state, we're gonna find ourselves with a continued state of war, military interventions are gonna get just as bad if not even worse, and we're going to find ourselves spending money in ways that are unsustainable that will ultimately lead to a monetary collapse if we don't take control of it," he said.
Johnson heads to Washington, D.C. tomorrow for a series of media appearances and to participate in the two final third party debates. He is spending Election Night at the official campaign party in his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico.