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One-on-One: Who is Gary Johnson?

by Matt Metzner, published

Governor Gary Johnson is the Libertarian candidate for president. He served as governor of New Mexico from 1995-2003. Prior to joining the Libertarian party on December 28, 2011, Gary Johnson campaigned as a Republican candidate for president. He was included in the first Republican presidential debate on May 5, 2011 (Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachmann did not participate) and in a September 2011 debate in Florida with all Republican presidential candidates.

Since joining the Libertarian Party, Gary Johnson has remained on the campaign trail, appearing throughout the country and gathering support as he strives to gather five percent of the national vote that would qualify the Libertarian Party for FEC funding in 2016. interviewed Gov. Johnson during his latest campaign stop in Washington, DC. The interview will appear in three segments leading up to Election Day. Our first set of questions attempted to answer the question, “who is Gary Johnson?”

Many Americans call for a candidate who is socially liberal and fiscally conservative. When we asked Gary Johnson if he believed he could be this candidate he exclaimed:

“Yeah that is me! I’m more liberal than Obama when it comes to civil liberties and I’m more conservative than Romney when it comes to dollars and cents. In my opinion, that’s the majority of America.”

With his approach to civil liberties and fiscal conservatism and its appeal to many American voters, we asked what the major misconceptions about Libertarians he’s found on the campaign trail. He replied:

“I think it’s the notion that Libertarians are draconian or Darwinists, that this is survival of the fittest. But, I think that’s the exception.”

Gov. Johnson’s campaign has resonated not only with Libertarians, but also with many Americans, and especially with young people. When asked about the response that young voters have given him on the campaign trail and the vision that they have for the future of America when their generation takes office, Johnson stated:

“This is the future, this is the direction we are going. With the recognition that the legislature is broken. Young people are genuinely upset. This is supposed to be handed over to them, and the unfair notion that those in power are going to retire but they’ll never be able to.”

Many young voters have latched on to Gov. Johnson’s message and developed a fascination with him aside from his public policy positions and candidacy. Some of this fascination fixes on Johnson’s personal accomplishments including finishing an Ironman race in Hawaii, summiting Mt. Everest, and running for the presidency. We asked Gov. Johnson which was more challenging for him, after a good laugh the candidate said:

“What I’ve learned is if you make life about winning the presidency, or summiting Everest, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. So you have to love the journey. If you’re going to do the Ironman, you have to love training for Ironman. You have to love hanging out in a tent for four straight days because it’s so frickin’ cold outside. You have to love to talk to people and engage people while running for President of the United States.”

During the remaining two days before the election, we will release portions of the interview including difficult questions regarding federal and state intervention in disasters and cross-border events, and the difficulties of overcoming public perception of third party candidates.

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