Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson's Campaign TV Ads Stress Experience, Honesty, and Keeping Government Out of Our Pocketbook and Our Bedroom


This week the Gary Johnson campaign began its first wave of paid TV ads. They are targeted at the Western states of New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington and the northeast state of New Hampshire.

Johnson/Weld campaign

As Bloomberg News reported, some doubt that particular targeting makes the most sense given the campaign's immediate term needs, even if they are the states he is most likely to do well in.

Ken Goldstein, a University of San Francisco professor who analyzes polls and advertising for Bloomberg Politics, believes that given Johnson's urgent need for debate inclusion, his advertising "game should be all about getting 15 percent in national polls—and for that he needs to advertise nationally and in the big states."

Campaign spokesman Joe Hunter told Bloomberg that "the targeting is based on a number of factors, from propensities toward independent voters, the relative popularity of the other candidates, and media markets."

Hunter told Bloomberg the campaign has spent more than a half million on TV ad buys this week. Bloomberg's contact in the ad industry said Johnson has no more TV ad buys locked in after September 19.

According to campaign spokesman Joe Hunter, the following three ads are all in paid TV rotation now. They are all pretty long for TV at one minute in length.

The first (in order of their display on the campaign's website) stresses Johnson's honesty and fiscal probity as governor, dubbing him "Honest Johnson." Vice President Weld speaks for Johnson, and the ad promises "the best America yet" (as opposed to a mere return to greatness a la Trump). This ad, like all of them, wraps up with the campaign's bandwagon-jumping slogan "Are You In?" followed by Weld's slyly pleading "Come on!"

A second, called "Been There," hypes the two candidates' tax cutting and spending and economic policy records as governors and the fact they are the only candidates with successful executive governing experience. It has Johnson joking that, if after giving them a chance, you decided you "don't like peace, prosperity and freedom you can always vote a Trump or Hillary back into office."

The third, "Issues," discusses their ability as Republican governors to win mass Democratic support, Weld's gubernatorial record of fiscal responsibility, Johnson's honesty, are brought up.

It shows the governors listing some of their positions, including term limits, internet freedom, "intelligent immigration reform," small efficient government" that treats citizens like "family" not livestock, (not so sure about the "family" part in a Libertarian context, but it sounds pleasant), personal freedom, getting government out of our pocketbook and our bedroom, and the idea that we should end wars and (this spin not the most consistently Libertarian) "use dollars here at home." (That locution is ambiguous about whether the entity using the dollars should be the federal government or the untaxed taxpayer.)

The Libertarian Party logo does appear clearly at the start of all three ads, but they are not trying to define or defend the term per se.