Earlier this afternoon, The American Spectator held a Newsmaker event with former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who as Jim noted earlier, is being touted as the potential Ron Paul of 2012.
Johnson has been making the rounds in Washington this week to promote his Our America initiative, a non-profit group he recently launched to promote his libertarian ideas and raise his profile ahead of what is widely expected to be a presidential run.
When I asked him about his possible presidential ambitions and the talk of him as a possible successor to Paul, he didn’t beat it down, but instead he cited his group’s non-profit status to deflect the question. Yet he did say he thought the ideas Paul campaigned on represented the beliefs of “a majority of Republicans.”
By contrast, he dismissed the idea of running for Senate out of hand, calling it a “trough job.” He said, “It’s a job where you belly up to the trough and eat away.”
Like Paul, he opposed the Iraq War. He also favors a withdrawal from Afghanistan, though he said he supported the initial invasion.
Johnson, a local businessman, was elected governor in 1994 with no prior political experience and served two terms as governor. He vetoed 750 bills, and claims to have issued thousands more line item vetoes. He garned the most national attention when he came out in favor of marijuana legalization.
While Johnson touted his spending restraint and “good government” reforms, he was candid about the fact that he had little in the way of legislative accomplishments.
“I proposed a lot of legislation,” Johnson said, before acknowledging, “none of it went anywhere, really.”
Instead, he told the group that he built more highways without raising taxes, cut the growth of Medicaid, and privatized half of the prison system.
In the post-gubernatorial section of his biography it only said he “has remained very active, competing in numerous athletic competitions. He is an avid skier, adventurer, and bicyclist who abstains from alcohol. In 2003, he climbed Mount Everest.”
When I him asked what he’s been doing after leaving office seven years ago besides climbing mountains, he told me, “Really, that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Dave Weigel has more on Johnson, from a Reason event earlier this week.