Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee and this has left many conservatives scrambling to find a candidate to support — some have already stated they would vote for Hillary Clinton.
However, there is another option. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson will be likely on the ballot in all 50 states and says he is “absolutely” the only free market candidate left in the race.
“The media still continues to hammer away at a potential third-party, they don’t take the next half-step to say that the the Libertarian Party is the third-party. The Libertarian Party is going to be the only [third-party] on the ballot in all 50 states,” Johnson said to The Daily Caller Wednesday.
He added, “they don’t take the next-half step which is to mention the Libertarian presumptive nominee.”
The Libertarian nominating process isn’t still over, Johnson faces competition from software developer John McAfee and libertarian activist Austin Petersen. The former governor is though the only candidate to have won primaries and considers himself the presumptive nominee.
The presumptive Democrat and Republican nominees, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, both hold historic high unfavorability ratings for presidential nominees. On top of this, many conservatives refuse to support Trump leaving an opening for Johnson. What’s standing in his way?
“It’s a rigged game and it starts with the polls. You can’t believe how many times I’ve heard the following statement, ‘Hey Gary it’s too bad you’ve never caught on,'” the former governor told TheDC. “Actually every time my name appears in a poll I do really well. It’s just having my name appear. As simple as that sounds that’s very very restrictive when you’re not in the polls. It’s like you’re not even running.”
The former governor has only been featured in one national poll so far this cycle. In the March Monmouth University poll, Johnson received 11 percent in a three-way matchup against Clinton and Trump. In the recent Rasmussen poll showing Trump beating Hillary by 2 points, 16 percent of voters said they would support some-other candidate, so there appears to be room for Johnson.
There has been much talk of an independent third-party conservative candidate, specifically retired Marine General James Mattis until he declined to run. Johnson told TheDC that major GOP donors have not been in contact with his campaign and neither have been prominent conservatives such as Bill Kristol.
“Where do they go? These are educated people they ought to recognize I am an alternative and I would argue I’m the small government guy,” Johnson said.
There are reasons for Republicans unattracted to Donald Trump to not want to support a Libertarian, Johnson is socially liberal and non-interventionist. (RELATED: Gary Johnson Reveals The Last Time He Used Marijuana)
When he spoke to TheDC about foreign policy Johnson in a way sounded similar to Trump. “Using Iraq/Iran as an example, we take out Saddam Hussein, really he’s the check to Iran. We cut that head off and now we’re dealing with Iran. If Saddam stayed in power arguably Iran wouldn’t be an issue today.”
Trump in an August speech said, “I’m not a fan of Hussein, but he ran the place, and he had no weapons of mass destruction.” He added, “Now, Iran controls Iraq, and the areas that they do not want, they give them to ISIS.”
In the Obama Doctrine profile in The Atlantic, the president’s mantra of “don’t do stupid shit” was revealed. This is fairly in line with Johnson’s hesitance to topple governments overseas. The former governor does take some issue with Obama’s foreign policy.
The Obama administration denies their deployment of military advisers in Syria counts as “boots on the ground,” Johnson doesn’t see it this way.
“Right now the fact that we put on the boots on the ground, the fact that we drop bombs, the fact that we fly drones and kill thousands of innocent people doing that, I think that has had an unintended consequence of destabilizing the Middle East,” the former governor said.
He also told TheDC, “don’t count on a [President] Johnson drawing a line in the sand that if that line gets crossed that he doesn’t follow through.”
Both frontrunners have espoused support for increased domestic infrastructure spending, and this isn’t at odds with Johnson. “We’re doing those infrastructure improvements half way around the world, to me we should stop with foreign aid,” the former governor said. He added, “let’s focus on this country where we do have these infrastructure needs.”
This is another place where Johnson ended sounding similar to Trump. In the presumptive GOP nominee’s announcement speech he said, “it is necessary that we invest in our infrastructure, stop sending foreign aid to countries that hate us and use that money to rebuild our tunnels, roads, bridges and schools—and nobody can do that better than me.”
Libertarians are commonly viewed as rigid ideologues who will eliminate all federal departments, Johnson pushed back on this.
“If you go back to 2012 I wasn’t advocating any sort of massive cuts. I am advocating a balanced budget,” the former governor said. “What I’m saying is that as President of the United States I’m going to sign on to anything that makes things better. I’m going to sign on to anything that reduces the size of government but the reality is, is I’m president of the United States I either get to sign or veto legislation.”