Gary Johnson Says Reaching Election Day in 2012 "was kind of like being let out of prison"


Gage Skidmore

Gary Johnson, former two-term New Mexico governor and the 2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, can think of two reasons why he failed to get more votes last November: He personally sucks at fundraising, and his campaign could've done a better job managing his time. In a conversation with Alex Kantrowitz of Forbes, Johnson talks about both:

Of his time on the road, Johnson said that 90 percent was not well spent. Giving an example, he pointed to one campaign stop in Detroit, Michigan where he awoke at 5 a.m. to attend a sparsely attended campaign event three hours away. "We get there and there are six people there," Johnson said. "There could have been some up front work done to determine there wasn't going to be 150 people, there was going to be six people. And to spend two, three hours there and then drive back three hours? You can't get elected president doing that."

While the time management issues may easy to correct, Johnson's fundraising problems may be more difficult. "I'm a horrible fundraiser," he said. "I'm terrible at asking people for money. I don't ask people for money. I don't do it. I can't. So, let's just not spend any time on that at all. Have others do that. Tell them right up front, 'The reason Gary is not on the phone is because he's horrible at this. He's incapable of raising money.'"

One of the worst things you can say about Johnson is that he's a little too honest sometimes. Another is that he always seemed to want to be doing something other than campaigning. On Jan. 29, 2012, for instance, Johnson, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney were all working crowds in Florida. On Jan. 28, Gingrich and Romney were working crowds in Florida, and Johnson was hiking in Taos, New Mexico. Can't say as I blame him, but the act of running for president does require a delusional belief in one's own significance that Johnson doesn't seem to hold. 

He also admits to Kantrowitz that he can't bring himself to take an interest in the 1.5+ million followers he accrued on social media:

In a phone interview a week before election day, Johnson said he would engage, with increased intensity, the social media following he built up over the course of his campaign. His following is not insignificant, counting over 1.5 million combined on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

"I recognize that to not do it would be stupid on my part," Johnson said at the time. "This is just a real gigantic missed opportunity if I don't become engaged with it myself."

"So, Have you?" I asked.
"No, not really," he replied.
"Why not?"
"No excuse. None."

Will Johnson run again in 2016? He can't say, as he's head of Our America Initiative, a 501(c)(4)). But he does tell Kantrowitz that reaching election day last year "was kind of like being let out of prison."