Inside the Capitol

Saturday, July 30, 2011

8-8 Gary Johnson telling it like it is

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- The national media should pay more attention to New Mexico's former Gov. Gary Johnson. He is the only person speaking candidly about other candidates and the issues.
While his competitors walk softly and mince words, Johnson is saying what he thinks. It is the sort of thing that would get good news ratings but the major media don't seem to hear him.
As long as Johnson is out there working his heart out trying to be our next president, I feel a need to report about him occasionally.
When Johnson got in the race, he felt his message of limited government and financial responsibility was going to resonate with a very large number of people who were calling for the same thing. Johnson could say he not only believed in limited government, he actually hadscarried it out as governor of a state.
The tea partiers said their concern was cutting back the size of government. Johnson thought that sounded like a very good fit. But it wasn't to be. His belief in limited government intrusion into people's personal lives didn't fit with the group.
Our former governor has been all over the country preaching his limited government message but it hasn't gone viral, as he had hoped. It hasn't even worked in New Hampshire, the most likely place for a libertarian message to catch on.
Johnson couldn't reach the two percent threshold to be in the CNN New Hampshire debate. He may face the same fate as Richardson, who withdrew from the 2008 presidential race two days after the New Hampshire primary.
Despite gaining no traction, Johnson has continued to make provocative assessments of the candidates and issues that higher ranked candidates have feared to utter. Some examples follow.
A conservative Iowa Christian group prepared a "Marriage Vow" that it asked all Republican presidential candidates to sign. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum signed immediately.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney issued a carefully worded statement that although he strongly supports traditional marriage, he feels this group's pledge is undignified. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty followed suit.
In contrast, Gary Johnson issued a statement saying, "In one concise document+, they manage to condemn gays, single parents, single individuals, divorcees, Muslims, gays in the military, unmarried couples, women who choose to have abortions and everyone else who doesn't fit in a Norman Rockwell painting."
Johnson called the pledge un-American and un-Republican. So tell us how you really feel, Gary.
They agreed on that issue but Johnson tore into Pawlenty on border protection, mocking him for an ad touting a decision to send Minnesota National Guard troops to defend the border.
Says Johnson, "I live in New Mexico. Let me tell you, that was a waste of money."
And then there's Johnson's impression of Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Johnson says listen to him talk. "I thought he was doing an impression of George Bush." Besides, Johnson says, America isn't ready to put another Texas governor in the White House.
Johnson says he thinks his biggest problem is name recognition. People know there is a candidate who is telling it like it his but they can't remember his name.
He says it is too bad he doesn't have the same advantage as Herman Cain, a former head of Godfather's Pizza. People hear his name and associate it with John McCain. Johnson thinks that's how Cain got invited to the New Hampshire CNN debate.
Johnson's biggest disappointment may have come when Rep. Ron Paul, of Texas decided to get into his third presidential race. Johnson had been hoping to be Paul's successor in spreading the libertarian message. It appears Paul also may be attracting a good chunk of Tea Party voters.
Rep Paul espouses the same libertarian social beliefs as Johnson but he does it more gently.
MON, 8-08-11

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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