Libertarian presidential contender Gary Johnson says he’s in the race to win it.
As mind-bogglingly ludicrous as that sounds, Johnson told The Daily Caller in a wide-ranging discussion — touching on everything from polygamy to Donald Trump — that his “pie in the sky scenario” involves being included on the debate stage with President Barack Obama and the eventual Republican nominee this fall.
“If that happens, I think anything is possible,” the former New Mexico governor said.
So how is this pro-marijuana legalization, avid outdoorsman angling to shake up the general election? Here are 10 serious and not-so-serious nuggets — in no particular order — from the conversation Johnson had with reporters and editors at TheDC’s Washington bureau:
1.) Does Johnson believe in American exceptionalism?
When asked by TheDC if he thought America was an exceptional nation, Johnson gave an answer that probably won’t satisfy those who believe that America has a unique and special role among nations.
“I believe in the individual as exceptional and if given the ability that government getting out of the way allows you to be that exceptional human being,” Johnson said. “So that’s what I believe in, and I think government can provide an environment to empower you as an individual to do things in this country perhaps that you can’t do anywhere else.”
2.) “I would hate to have come out of this meeting that Johnson supports polygamy”
Asked if he has a libertarian view on consenting adults having more than one spouse, Johnson made clear he didn’t want to discuss the topic, replying that “if you talk about those kinds of issues” you will be “labeled as kooky.”
“And I would hate to have come out of this meeting that Johnson supports polygamy,” he said. “I would hate to have that happen.”
When one questioner suggested that it’s difficult to support gay marriage philosophically and not support polygamy between consenting adults, Johnson replied: “I agree with that philosophically.”
He then quickly added, “If the headlines out of this meeting is that Johnson supports polygamy, that’ll be the end of my campaign.”
3.) Doesn’t plan on asking Ron Paul to support him
Johnson said he will not ask the libertarian-leaning Texas Rep. Ron Paul to endorse his bid for president when the Republican primary fight is over. “I’m not going to seek it.”
“I don’t want to ask for an endorsement and not get it,” he said.
Asked to elaborate, Johnson said, “I love the guy. I really do, but I think he’s in a pickle, if you will.” He admitted that one such consideration could be Paul’s son, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul.
Regardless, Johnson said he sees himself as the natural general election fit for those who supported Paul in the GOP primary.
“At the base of Ron Paul support, in my opinion, are people with brains. And where do they go?”
4.) Johnson doesn’t think there are many pro-pot Romney fanatics
Asked whether he thinks his candidacy could help elect Barack Obama by siphoning votes away from Mitt Romney or whoever the eventual GOP nominee is, Johnson said no way.
“I reject the notion that I’m going to take votes from Romney,” he said. “You know all of those Romney supporters that are ardent marriage-equality advocates? That are for getting out of the conflicts in the Middle East? All those pot smokers that are for Romney? Nah, I don’t buy it.”
5.) An ardent defender of gun rights, Johnson just recently bought a gun
“I bought my first gun ever this summer, .38, 2 1/2 inch Smith and Wesson revolver,” Johnson said.
“Forever I’ve always thought of finding myself in a situation where I needed a gun and not had it.”
When asked whether he is packing heat on the campaign trail, Johnson said no. But that doesn’t mean he is necessarily opposed to it.
“I’m not the guy to restrict anything about private firearms,” he said. “Caliber, number of bullets in the chamber, I’m not your guy,”
6.) Should women be allowed to have an abortion to choose a boy or a girl?
“I leave abortion to the woman,” he said. “I just fundamentally end there.”
When it comes to abortion, Johnson said, “I absolutely support a woman’s right to choose.”
And on the question of whether a man should have a say in it, Johnson replied, “When it comes to that bottom line decision, no.”
However, the former New Mexico governor said he’s for restricting public funding of abortion because “it’s libertarian” for someone to say what they don’t want their taxes spent on.
7.) Johnson on his favorite drugs
“Marijuana was really my favorite,” said Johnson, who supports legalizing the drug, but said in a previous interview that he hasn’t used it since 2008.
He’s also tried coke at one point in his life. “I’ve used cocaine on a handful of occasions and that was one of those drugs where — holy cow — I understand why cocaine is what it is.”
He says he has no desire to touch the drug again.
“To me, there’s something wrong with feeling this good, and come to find out, I mean, cocaine literally puts holes in your heart,” he said. “People my age who have used cocaine have died because of heart failure, and Whitney Houston [is] our latest example of what it is to use cocaine your whole life.”
Johnson doesn’t support full legalization of drugs yet.
“Would the world be a better place if all drugs were legalized tomorrow? Absolutely,” he said. “But pragmatically speaking, you’re not going to go from the criminalization of all drugs to the legalization of drugs overnight. I think you start with marijuana and those giant steps happen very quickly after we do marijuana.”
8.) Johnson isn’t the most religious candidate who’s ever run for president
Johnson, who said he doesn’t go to church, made it clear he doesn’t think “religion should play a role in government.”
“I don’t seek the counsel of God,” Johnson said. “God doesn’t speak to me on what I should or shouldn’t do.”
Asked about his religious beliefs, Johnson said,“I haven’t gone to church since I finished my confirmation as a Lutheran.”
9.) No love for his predecessor in New Mexico, Bill Richardson
“To my knowledge Bill Richardson was 100 percent pay-to-play, to my knowledge,” Johnson said.
“I have heard from everybody that I know connected with government for the last four years that he is getting indicted tomorrow. That’s what I’ve heard for four straight years, continue to hear it today, but it has never happened.”
10.) As governor of New Mexico, does Johnson know what happened at Roswell in July 1947?
“Okay, you’ve hit on the one thing I really can’t talk about,” Johnson said, straight-faced, when pressed on the mystery surrounding Roswell.
“I was whisked off into a basement and told exactly what happened.”
But he then added, “I will tell you that the alien-to-work program in my office really worked well. They’re hard-working. There’s no stop and they don’t take potty breaks.”
“I’ve said too much already.”
TheDC is genuinely confused about whether Johnson’s whole answer was a joke — or just the last part.