Debate: Gary Johnson Is Impressive, But Not ‘Presidential’



Today, I had the pleasure to talk with media legend and libertarian leader John Stossel. For years I’ve admired Stossel as the guy who said we can be Stupid in America; went out to say that policies were in some cases making us Sick in America; and dared on national TV to give the notion that Greed is Good. With the wildest election year in generations, he’s setting up a debate for the Libertarian primary. We therefore decided to do something rare, and have us be the guys to ask him the questions. Please enjoy!

“John, thanks for speaking with me. It’s really an honor to talk with you. I just want to open this up by saying you’ve really been an icon for many including myself in the liberty movement who have watched your show religiously over the last few years. You’ve helped a lot of us become libertarians or become better libertarians.”

“Well thank you, I’m glad some people are getting onto the message and learning from it.”

“Counting on that, you’ve helped a lot of people not feel the Bern & not stump for Trump which is always a nice thing.”

“That is a nice thing.”

“So diving in, you began this race as a Rand supporter like many. Rand didn’t really do so well in this election cycle and despite a big effort, had a very poor showing in the Iowa Caucus and his run is panned as a failure.”

“I like Rand Paul, but I don’t really think he was a perfect libertarian. He didn’t really talk about the issues most libertarians wanted to hear and I think that shows in his results. Now, I don’t want to call him a bad speaker, but when he got up, he was trying to please the establishment and didn’t really do it well enough they ever bought into it.”

“So you think it was a failure of his campaign or?”

“I don’t really know. I’m not a politician or in politics and I don’t want to speculate on that. Yet Gary Johnson however, there’s a guy who’s a two term governor, he’s great, with talking about the issues and I think he’s the guy really representing the movement forward. And look, of the three candidates I’ve interviewed for this debate, they were all interesting and all can clearly grow the liberty movement.”

“So you mentioned the LP debate and what we are to see this Friday. Going into that, I just want to ask what you think of each candidate in the field and let’s start with Austin Petersen. For this, please give one positive and one negative attribute about them.”

“For the candidates, Gary Johnson is the one I find most impressive in particular. The man just has a sound libertarian message I think most people can get behind and also is someone more credible over what the major parties are offering.”

“So what would you say he does wrong?”

“If I had to say anything, it’s that he just doesn’t really come off as the guy most people would say is “presidential”. He tends to just go on and on a bit too much about him being an athlete or what is in his personal life. He can come off a little boring and he might talk about marijuana a bit more over what most people would like. So, he needs some work.”

“I’ve always found that about Gary. Now, what do you think of Austin Petersen?”

“Well Austin is a very young guy. He’s barely old enough to be president and I think that does show a bit in this debate and just in general. I’m not really sure about how he came into this race or what his reasoning was, but I think there’s a little lack of seasoning on him. That though isn’t really a bad thing. Watching the debate after it was done, I can’t say he won the debate, but he had his moments where the guy clearly showed he has some talent for this space.”

“I remember recently looking at photos of Austin celebrating his 35th birthday on facebook so I can say that is true.”

“Yeah and I don’t find anything wrong with a young candidate. I think a lot of people want a young candidate. It’s just that it’s an adjustment for people.”

“So the next candidate in your debate is John McAfee. What would you say are the positives and negatives on him”

“Well, the man has this just checkered past and I don’t really know if that moves people properly. I am not really sure why he’s running and not really sure if just what people know about his personal life makes him the most viable person to run for president. However, he talks, about tech security and technology where he is very knowledgeable and could be a great candidate there.”

“Do you think that tech security and what he’s talking about there are important issues for the liberty movement as a whole? Do you think they can attract people?”


“Just maybe?”

“Well again, I’m not a politician and don’t really know what issues people vote for. I just don’t know if it’s my biggest priority when I go to vote.”

“What is your big priority when you go to vote? Also what do you think are the issues that serve as the bread and butter to the liberty movement?”

“Ending the wars. Ending the war on drugs.”

“What about economic issues?”

“Of course. To me, I always really vote looking at where a candidate stands on regulatory issues and what is going on.”

“So moving on, you began as a consumer reporter in the 70s and 80s…”

“Thanks for reminding me how young I am.”

“Sorry. Yet doing this, where do you see the liberty movement and relation to consumer reporting. You began as a Ralph Nader type liberal doing consumer reporting work and now have really become a government reporter to some extent.”

“I don’t think there’s much of a difference between consumer reporting and what I do now. It’s taking problems the public might have or might not be aware of and bringing it to the masses. With what I do now, I don’t see any difference in that and what the people see with talking about government.”

“I remember a pretty famous clip of you in the 80s holding up and attacking scam solar powered dry cleaners that were just ropes and reporting a lot of products.”

“You might remember my life better than I do.”

“Well, with that, how did work in that field change and evolve you politically?”

“Really, thanks to the Internet, I think consumer reporting is kind of dead. It’s not something people really need people like me doing shows on, because for free thousands of real consumers will post video reviews or whatever. That industry changed, but I didn’t on how I report and like I said, what I do reporting government and products is essentially the same. The difference is I went from very liberal on economic issues and supporting people like you said with Ralph Nader to realizing the market worst best when government isn’t in it. It’s just something I picked up over years.”

“Wrapping this up, a fun question. I am, like you, a New Yorker living in Manhattan. I bike about 15 miles a day. Gary Johnson is just a machine who I’ve seen bike like no one else. You I know enjoy biking to work. Is cycling the libertarian sport?”

“That’s funny! I’m going to say no, because declaring a sport for libertarians would be sort of unlibertarian for me to do. However, it is funny you drew a correlation there and maybe it is maybe it isn’t. I’m going to say no, but also say I have no plans to stop biking anytime soon.”

“Well closing up, it was really great to speak with you and I do admire you for setting this thing up. For the audience and our viewers, what parts of the debate would you say are the highlights to watch out for?”

“The debate itself for the first half is pretty friendly and maybe a little generic. It however, gets better the second half when I really start to go after these guys. That will get pretty fun for our viewers and for everyone watching.”

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