Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has made being a nice, non-combative guy a central part of his campaign strategy.
But just minutes before Monday's debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Johnson lashed out at U.S. foreign policy failures, his exclusion by the Commission on Presidential Debates, and the media's fixation on his Aleppo gaffe rather than his larger point that the nation's interventions have "thousands of people dying" while failing to establish peace.
When asked by reporters at Twitter's New York headquarters how he would talk about foreign policy, the former two-term New Mexico governor raged:
I want to stop with these military interventions! In my heart, I don't want to send our men and servicewomen to lose their lives, and I don't want to them to be responsible for what are ultimately thousands of innocent people being killed in these countries.
So Hillary Clinton dots the i's and crosses the t's on all the names and everything associated with this, but as a result of that, we have the foreign policy that we have now, that I have to tell you I think is horrible. Horrible!
And that's how I would answer it tonight. I would be mad. I would be angry. i would be angry that people would people would be calling me out on the names, geographic locations, names of foreign leaders, when the underlying policy has thousands of people dying. And that is unacceptable.
Johnson and his running mate William Weld took questions from reporters at Twitter's Manhattan headquarters when Bloomberg reporter Arit John asked, "If you were in the debate, how would you handle some of these detailed policy questions?" The reporter also referenced Johnson's infamous "What is Aleppo?" gaffe.
Johnson flew off the handle again minutes later when asked whether he and Weld were "spoiler candidates." Johnson furrowed his brow and barked:
Why would you even say that?…We're giving people a chance to vote for something, as opposed to the lesser of two evils. That's what we are providing, first vote. You want to waste your vote with Clinton…or Trump, go right ahead and waste your vote. We're not spoilers, we are the first vote! So I guess we should drop out? Is that your editorial, should we drop out?"
Later on Monday night, during a Facebook Live interview, Reason's Matt Welch, who was hosting the Q&A, asked Johnson about the perception that he's "goofy."
If goofy means being fiscally conservative, small government, being a good steward of tax dollars, if goofy means standing up for civil liberties, you and I being able to make choices in our lives, if goofy means standing up for military personnel that we're putting in harm's way, if goofy means saying…let's stop with the regime changes, if goofy is supporting free markets, more US jobs, I'm the goofiest guy in the whole planet!
In a Facebook Live interview filmed on Tuesday morning after the debate, Johnson explained that his outbursts stem from the fact that U.S. servicemen and women "have to pull those triggers" and kill innocent people in misbegotten conflicts.
That's not their fault, that's the fault of political leadership. And these are the people I'm debating? And these are the people I'm debating? And I'm speaking specifically about Hillary Clinton…Somehow that makes her more qualified? Yeah, that just pisses me off, Matt. Really pisses me off.
Watch the video, which was captured by Matt Welch, below.
Start your day with Reason. Get a daily brief of the most important stories and trends every weekday morning when you subscribe to Reason Roundup.