The day Ted Cruz dropped out of the Republican primary, Google searches for “Gary Johnson” went through the roof. Johnson, the pro-pot former Republican governor of New Mexico, took home one percent of the nationwide vote as the Libertarian candidate for president in 2012. This year he thinks his chances are much better.
On Thursday, Johnson — still the presumptive nominee until the Libertarian Party convention in Florida next weekend — announced William Weld, former Republican governor of Massachusetts, as his VP pick. Could two Republican governors set to be on the ballot in all 50 states be the white horse #NeverTrump-ers have been praying for? Maybe not: A recent Fox News poll has Johnson at just 10 percent, not enough to even get into the general-election debates.
Rolling Stone recently talked to Johnson about why he’s suing the Presidential Debate Commission, rumors about being supported by the Koch brothers, and how he sees his role as a third-party candidate in a two-party system.
You said at a recent Libertarian debate in Las Vegas that you got your “ass kicked” in 2012.
So what’s going to be different this year?
Well, I think with the announcement today of Bill Weld as the vice presidential pick for the Libertarian Party, I think that I could actually win the presidency. Now, don’t get me wrong: The only chance a third party has of winning the presidency is to be in the presidential debate, and right now that possibility is very, very real, and it starts with Hillary and Trump being arguably the two most polarizing figures in American politics today.
Your campaign is suing the Presidential Debate Commission, which puts on the debates, to include you — is that right?
Yes. The Presidential Debate Commission says that you have to be at 15 percent in the polls to be in the presidential debates. I have never had an issue with being at a certain level in the polls — my issue has always been being in the polls. On Wednesday, for example, Fox had me in a national poll at 10 percent. Monmouth had me at 11 percent in a national poll against Hillary and Trump.
If Mickey Mouse was the third name in a presidential poll, Mickey would be at 30 percent, because Mickey is a known entity. But Mickey is not on the ballot in all 50 states, and, if I’m the Libertarian nominee, I’m going to be the only one to lay claim to that. You could have all the money in the world, but starting today, you would not be able to get on the ballot in all 50 states.
Speaking of having all the money in the world, I saw a report saying David Koch committed “tens of millions of dollars” to your campaign. The report cites a source within your campaign. Is it true?
Well, I have no knowledge of it. I have no knowledge of being contacted by David Koch.
You know, if the Kochs do come in [and financially support my campaign], it will probably be as a super PAC, and there’s just no transparency in super PACs. That’s one of the issues that I have with campaign finance. To me, all of this should be transparent, but currently it’s not. [With a] super PAC, you have absolutely no control, you don’t even have knowledge of who they are or what they are doing. But, in this case, I would have to think that it would be a positive as opposed to a negative, given that we are so far behind the eight ball [in terms of fundraising].