Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who left the Republican Party in 2012 and is now seeking the Libertarian presidential nomination he won four years ago, said Thursday that there’s “no way” GOP candidate Donald Trump can beat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
In an interview with InsideSources, Johnson said Trump has pushed racism and fascism in his campaign and “alienates more than half of Republicans.” The former governor particularly criticized the business mogul’s remarks about undocumented Mexican immigrants and Muslims.
Following Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse’s recent assertion that his fellow conservative Republicans “will need to find a third option” if Trump is their nominee, Johnson pitched himself as that choice. He noted that the Libertarians are the only third party that will be on the ballot in all 50 states.
But Johnson faces a series of hurdles to be a competitive candidate. A Libertarian has never come close to winning the presidency. The former governor admits to having no real organization. Then there’s the fact that the great “Libertarian Moment” so many political observes sensed a few years ago just hasn’t come to pass.
Johnson has an answer for this. For example, he said Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, didn’t truly run for president as libertarians in the Republican primaries.
“They’re social conservatives,” Johnson said. “There are plenty of libertarians who are social conservatives, but they don’t want to have government have any say.”
Johnson isn’t the only candidate who could offer Americans a third choice in November. Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, a onetime professional wrestler elected to a single term on the Reform Party ticket, is considering vying for the Libertarian nomination himself. He released a short outline of his platform, including getting money out of politics, legalizing drugs, avoiding wars and rebuilding the country through infrastructure improvements and alternative energy.
Of course, another independent candidate this fall could be Donald Trump if he doesn’t win the Republican primary or he’s denied the nomination at the convention. Trump has said he won’t mount a third-party bid as long as he’s “treated fairly” by the GOP, but he gets to decide that on his own and could easily opt to run. After his victory in South Carolina, in fact, he told ABC News, “I don’t think I’m being treated fairly by the [Republican National Committee].” Nevertheless, Trump appears on track to win the nomination, and the RNC said last week that a contested convention is highly unlikely.