Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson is increasingly showing his fangs in the waning days of the 2016 electoral cycle.
Last month, Johnson displayed some righteous fury over how much media attention was paid to his "What is Aleppo?" face-plant compared to how little attention has been paid to Hillary Clinton's hawkish and largely failed foreign policy. More recently, he got feisty with The Guardian's Paul Lewis, who pressed him about his tax policy.
And during a two-part debate he took part in with Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein (Part 1 aired last night, Part 2 airs tonight), Johnson described moderator Tavis Smiley's characterization that he increased New Mexico's debt by more than double during his eight years as the state's governor as "horseshit." Watch the clip below:
Smiley didn't directly cite his source for the debt figures, but he may have been referring to James Spiller's article in National Review that "Johnson inherited a debt of $1.8 billion and left a debt of $4.6 billion, a rate of increase unmatched by the 22 governors in either party who have filed for presidential primaries in the past two decades."
Though Johnson says "there is absolutely no basis in fact for that," Reason's Brian Doherty wrote:
While Johnson had the veto and used it around over 700 times—he thinks that's more than all his fellow governors at the time combined—the legislature ultimately has the power of the purse. On his way out Johnson vetoed an entire budget for 2003 but got overridden. What New Mexico spent during his administration was somewhat, but by no means ultimately, up to him.
As Johnson has repeatedly demonstrated this electoral cycle, he's not the best communicator or extemporaneous public speaker, but he could have capitalized on his sure-to-be noteworthy use of an expletive on public television by explaining that he worked hard to battle the Democratic-controlled legislature's tendency for what he believed was "profligate" spending, and that despite the increase in total debt managed to leave office with a reported $1 billion budget surplus.