In life and politics, you need to keep going and put one foot in front of the other. That was my personal mantra when I climbed Mount Everest in 2003, after I served two terms as the Republican governor of a Democratic state.
I’m running for president as the only alternative to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on the ballot in all 50 states. My running mate, Gov. Bill Weld, and I have always known that many extraordinary things needed to happen for us to win.
Some of those things have happened: Young people and independents have connected with our message. We continue to draw support from all four corners of our nation — from Alaska to Maine, from the Dakotas to my home state of New Mexico — as well as heartland states of Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.
The “system” hasn’t made it easy. The two-party Commission on Presidential Debates excluded Weld and myself — in spite of the urgings from former politicians, newspapers, and a majority of Americans. And seeing our strength among millennials and young independents, Super PACs and pro-Democrat outlets have launched unprecedented attacks against us. It is entirely possible these groups will end up spending more attacking me than our third party challenge will spend in total.
Trump makes disqualifying and false statements almost daily. Clinton’s ethical and potential legal troubles are accumulating hourly. Yet, the mouthpieces for both sides find it necessary to engage in a “gotcha” campaign against a thoroughly vetted, experienced and successful former governor who tells the truth, abhors hypocrisy and actually has a track record of success both in public service and business.
Their latest fun at my expense has been to seize upon a rather heated interview in which I clearly ran out of patience with loaded questions, foregone conclusions cloaked in journalism, and flat-out incorrect assumptions.
Yes, I got animated. Animated was reported as “losing it.” I do a lot of things, but “losing it” isn’t one of them. I built a multi-million dollar business from scratch, served two terms as a Republican governor in a Democratic state — on the overall scale of challenges in my life, dealing with a loaded interview from a guy with a video camera doesn’t even register.
Americans deserve leaders they can actually know and believe. They deserve the truth, and frankly, they deserve a break from politicians and their media surrogates who measure their worth in internet clicks.
We have a $20 trillion debt, a government health care system teetering on collapse, children dying in bombing raids in Syria — and my exchange with a reporter is news? Come on.
Call me naive, but I think Americans care about the issues. And on the issues, Weld and I are the only candidates pledging to deliver a balanced budget, and the only ticket that is pro-free trade.
We are the only candidates with proven records of cutting taxes and reducing the size of government. On foreign policy, we offer a clear difference from Clinton’s plan to continue meddling in the Middle East, and Trump’s trademark unpredictability.
Finally, we offer a pathway to national reconciliation on civil liberties, including the First Amendment’s protections for free exercise of religion, for political speech, the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, and the simple proposition that everyone deserves equal protection under the law.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is the Libertarian nominee for president.