Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson won’t be onstage tonight, but he has a few questions for the guys who will.
The former Republican governor of New Mexico wasn’t among the undecided voters chosen to attend the town hall debate between President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney either, so Roll Call will summarize them here:
1. For both Romney and Obama: You argue over who is going to spend more money on Medicare and yet both of you talk about a balanced budget. How do you do both?
2. For Romney: How do you balance the federal budget, as you have promised to do, given that you also want to increase military spending?
3. For Obama: When you ran for office, you said the federal government would not raid medical marijuana dispensaries in states where they operate in compliance with state and local laws, but in the last year the Justice Department has tried to shut down hundreds of pot shops in California, Colorado and elsewhere. Why?
4. For Obama: Ditto with gay rights. Why are you leaving same-sex marriage up to the states?
In an interview with Roll Call, Johnson also had harsh words for the president: “There’s just about nothing that comes out of your mouth that I can agree with. The reality doesn’t match at all with your rhetoric.”
But he was equally dismissive of Congress and how some of his ideological cousins in the tea party movement, such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have been co-opted by the system.
“I want to throw them all out,” he said. “I love Rand Paul, but if I had a choice of pulling the drain and letting the baby run out with the bath water, I’d do it.”
Johnson is on the ballot in every state except Michigan and Oklahoma, and some Republicans fear he could steal precious votes if the contest between Romney and Obama is close in some battleground states, such as Colorado, Nevada and Ohio.
If he has a good showing on Nov. 6, Johnson said he would head the Libertarian ticket again in 2016.
But he was coy about what he would consider success for a candidate who has never polled above 6 percent nationally.
“It rests in being relevant,” Johnson told Roll Call. “If the day after the election there is a broad consensus that we did not exceed expectations ... maybe this is fruitless.”