Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson rejects talk that he could spoil Mitt Romneys chances in the Mountain West and says he wont pick a lesser of two evils.
I dont bash Obama, I dont bash Romney, Johnson said Monday before a meet-and-greet in the Old Spaghetti Factory in Boise. I just think theyre both about status quo.
Johnson ticked off the differences, rapid-fire:
I dont want to bomb Iran. I want to get out of Afghanistan and bring the troops home tomorrow. I really do believe in marriage equality, I think its a constitutionally guaranteed right. I want to abolish income tax, corporate tax, the IRS replace it with a national consumption tax. I want to end the drug wars. I am promising to submit a balanced budget. There are really big differences between me and these other two cats.
Johnson said any spoiler effect is difficult to predict, but he appreciates the speculation because it shines a light on his candidacy. Its split. Some states its Obama, some states its Romney.
He concedes that the best a Libertarian nominee has done nationally is 1 percent, but said he wouldnt be running if he didnt think he had a chance to win.
That depends entirely on getting a place in the fall debates, Johnson said, which require a 15 percent showing in national polls. Gallup has Johnson at 3 percent, but Johnson said just three of 18 major polls even mention his name. Its a self-fulfilling prophecy, he said.
Johnson said he presses on because he believes he represents an emerging majority among Americans fed up with the partisan bickering and gridlock.
Democrats are supposed to do good when it comes to the notion of being accepting. Republicans are supposed to do good on dollars and cents. I dont know if either one of them does well in either of those categories, and Republicans do horribly on civil liberties and Democrats do horribly on dollars and cents.
Johnsons athletic exploits have drawn attention. Hes completed triathalons, spent two seasons as a ski instructor at North Idahos Schweitzer Mountain after college and broke his back in a 2005 paragliding accident. He says marijuana played an important role in his recovery, but that he quit smoking pot in 2008.
On Saturday, Johnson, 61, plans to ride the Leadville Trail 100, a famed mountain bike race in Colorado. Though he said Idaho is a wonderful, wonderful state he wont have time to ride the Boise Front before heading to Reno Tuesday.
Ill save myself for Saturday, Johnson said.
Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics