Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson gives acceptance speech during National Convention held at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Fla., May 29, 2016.
Photo by Kevin Kolczynski/Reuters

Gary Johnson isn’t doing himself any favors

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson spoke at a Bloomberg Politics event this week, where he made quite an impression. If you watch this clip, note the part in which Johnson, a former Republican governor, makes a strange face and starts shaking his chair for reasons that aren’t altogether clear.

This week, Johnson also sat down with NBC News’ Kasie Hunt, and during the interview, the presidential candidate apparently thought it’d be funny if he spoke – for a surprisingly long time – with his tongue out. As the video shows, Hunt seemed baffled, as any normal person would be.

The clips are a reminder of Johnson’s unusual position as a presidential hopeful right now. On the one hand, polls show the former governor doing quite well for an underfunded Libertarian, and this year he’ll be the first third-party candidate to appear on the ballot in all 50 states since Ross Perot in 1996.

On the other hand, Johnson isn’t exactly taking full advantage of the opportunity he’s been given. It’s not just the goofy persona, either – this week, the national candidate said how relieved he was that “nobody got hurt” when a bomb exploded in New York and a man with a knife attacked people in a Minnesota mall. In reality, dozens of people were injured in the incidents.

Stories like these don’t help, either.
Peter Schulman of Mother Jones has found a remarkable video from 2011 where Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson dismissed concerns about climate change because, countless generations from now, the earth will be destroyed. As Johnson explained to the National Press Club in 2012, “In billions of years the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth, right? So global warming is in our future.”

As Schulman notes, this absurd argument is in keeping with Johnson’s general opposition to doing anything about climate change.
This is the guy many young, liberal voters are gravitating towards?

Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum had a good piece the other day noting Johnson’s support among millennial voters, most notably former Bernie Sanders backers. Kevin makes the case that this is more or less bonkers, listing 18 areas in which Johnson’s platform is practically the polar opposite of Sanders’ agenda.

Click the link for the full list; it’s a doozy. Johnson, who briefly ran for the Republicans’ presidential nomination four years ago, supports fracking, thinks the Citizens United ruling was a great call, rejects a minimum-wage increase, wants to eliminate the corporate tax rate, etc. This is generally the stuff of Bernie Sanders’ nightmares.

The more young, progressive-minded voters know about Johnson, the less support he’s likely to have.

One gets the sense that Johnson realizes there’s room for a competitive third-party candidate in 2016, given the relative unpopularity of the major-party contenders. But what the Libertarian nominee doesn’t seem to know is how best to take advantage of that opportunity.

Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson isn't doing himself any favors