Fmr. New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the
2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate who again is running to be the party's standard-bearer, is the subject of profiles in two legacy media publications this week. And as Donald Trump and Jeb Bush could tell you, media coverage is better than SuperPAC money when it comes to raising campaign awareness.
The New York Times writes that the Republican Party is currently "eating its own tail, with millions of voters lining up for a candidate that many party leaders find morally and politically reprehensible" and thus, there may be an opening for a "Naderian spoiler candidate to prevent Donald J. Trump from winning the presidency."
The metaphor is a bit tortured, as Democratic Party leaders were in no way rooting for Ralph Nader to siphon voters from Al Gore and hand the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush, and the Times acknowledges that GOP elites would be unlikely to rally around a candidate who is staunchly non-militaristic and has long supported reproductive rights, as well as the legalization of marijuana and prostitution.
The Times notes that Johnson, a former Republican who briefly ran for the party's nomination in 2012, is not looking in the rear-view mirror with regret, but he does find the ascension of Trump to the top of the GOP pack "maddening":
"Thirty percent of Republicans believe the scourge of the earth is Mexican immigration," he said. "It was my voice saying, 'You're wrong.' That they're the cream of the crop when it comes to workers. That they're not taking jobs that U.S. citizens want."
He added: "And the fence is crazy. It's asinine."
The Wall Street Journal also interviewed Johnson yesterday, where he said he would not mind a Republican interloper trying to win the Libertarian Party nomination, predicting they would "get shoveled out the door," but that "it would raise the profile of the whole Libertarian position." Not that there's been any Republicans of note indicating that they wish to run for the LP's nod in 2016.
In another surprising tangent, Johnson said that if he weren't running for president and his choices were between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, he'd prefer to vote for a candidate like former New York City mayor (and stalwart enemy of freedom) Mike Bloomberg.
Johnson has a tendency to talk himself into corners, and his semantic breakdown of why he wasn't terribly upset about Bloomberg's infamous failed attempt to ban the sale of large sodas might be an example of him confusing and/or enraging the libertarian base, when what he likely intended was to opine that Bloomberg's petty authoritarianism pales in comparison to Clinton and Trump's more overtly overbearing governmental philosophies:
"As president of the United States, do I want to pass legislation limiting the size of sodas? No. But if you're going to do that, if you're going to limit the size of sodas, shouldn't that be in some municipality?" he said. "If you're going to do this, do this at the municipal level. I wouldn't have done it, but I would have been advocating that sugar drinks are not good for you. I mean, I love Michelle Obama and her advocacy of calories and what it is that we eat, I would take that to a higher level."
The Journal also goes into Johnson's stint as a marijuana entrepreneur, and he even discusses his experiences of driving while stoned (!):
I never found myself driving less than the speed limit because I might get caught for it. I always obeyed all traffic signs. I had no idea where I was but I knew that if I kept on driving it would come to me and it came to me every time.
If Johnson wins the LP nomination, will he also become the face of the #NeverTrump movement?
In an election year where the rule-book has been eviscerated beyond recognition, it would be unwise to bet against the possibility of the Libertarian Party, the only third party who will be on all 50 states' ballots, nominating a former governor who left office with his state enjoying a huge budget surplus and somehow potentially swinging the general election to the Democrats.
Last summer, Gary Johnson spoke with Reason TV about Donald Trump, presidential politics and more. Watch below: