WASHINGTON – Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is nothing if not persistent.
Johnson, who ran for president in 2012, said Wednesday on Fox News that he will mount another Libertarian bid for the White House in 2016. He concedes his campaign is a long shot.
“I’m not saying we’re going to gain any traction at all,” Johnson said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “But of the years I spent running for president in 2012, 90 percent ended up being wasted time. It seemed I was hitting my head up against the wall and it was fruitless. But this time, I’m not doing any of that 90 percent (of the same efforts) and expecting different results. We’re a lot smarter.”
The former two-term Republican governor this week resigned as CEO of Cannabis Sativa Inc., a company aiming to capitalize on the legal marijuana movement, to clear his schedule for a presidential campaign. The former construction company owner and self-made millionaire, who now lives in Taos, told me he’ll run on his familiar Libertarian platform of smaller government, less intervention in foreign affairs and more personal liberties.
Johnson also said the current front-runners – Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton – are unpalatable options for millions of Americans. He hopes to provide an appealing alternative. Johnson ran as a political outsider and millionaire businessman when he first won the New Mexico governorship in 1994. So he understands Trump’s basic appeal. But for him, the allure ends there.
“On one hand, I get the lure – you’re going to support someone totally independent and who is not indebted to anyone,” Johnson said. “But I do not support a fence across the border – that’s just whacked. I never said anything as stupid as deporting 11 million immigrants.”
Interestingly, the longtime opponent of interventionist foreign policy and proponent of personal freedoms said he would support banning burqas that cover Islamic women’s entire faces. Johnson said Islamic Sharia law doesn’t condemn violence against women, and burqas allow women to hide facial injuries.
“We need to separate Sharia law, which is politics, and Islam, which is religion,” Johnson said.
In 2012, Johnson initially ran as a Republican and switched to the Libertarian Party partly because he could not gain access to most of the GOP debates. He’s filed an antitrust lawsuit against the Commission on Presidential Debates aiming to force his inclusion into the final general election debates if he wins the Libertarian nomination.
“It could easily go to the Supreme Court, because there is no time for appeal,” Johnson said.
Asked about money to run a presidential campaign, Johnson said he has none. But he’s taking donations.
“We start from scratch today,” Johnson said.
Michael Coleman: firstname.lastname@example.org