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The Atlantic: Is Gary Johnson the Next Ron Paul?


On paper, Gary Johnson seems to fit right in with the rest of the potential 2012 Republican presidential field.

Having served two terms as governor of New Mexico -- one more term in office than Mitt Romney, and one-and-a-half more than Sarah Palin -- his biggest boast is that he vetoed 750 bills and over a billion dollars of spending from 1994 to 2002. He talks the fiscal-conservative talk as well as anyone out there.

"My entire life, I've just always thought that this is just not sustainable, and that at some point the bill would be due," he told me when I interviewed him before a speaking appearance at American University late last month. "I just think that that day is right now, finally."

This is the stuff every Republican primary voter seems to want to hear: Earnest appreciation of deficit catastrophe, and pledges to address the problem with drastic reductions in government spending.

"When you actually look at the resumes, maybe I'd be the one with the resume when it came to being fiscal conservative," he told me. "My resume stands out as being, holy cow, he's the most fiscally conservative of the whole group."

Except there are a few stark differences between Johnson and almost every other Republican angling for the White House -- and those differences, more likely than not, will come to define his underdog campaign.

For one, Johnson wants to legalize marijuana, and he likes to talk about it. He first raised the issue as governor, and he makes the fiscal case for drug law reforms with talk about the cost to taxpayers of law enforcement and prisons. He would have signed a bill banning late-term abortions, he told me, but he supports abortion rights until viability of a fetus. He enjoys ripping into hard-line immigration policies, as he has called for more visas for American-educated students and future businesspeople.

Thin and sandy-haired, Johnson talks with a serene focus that seems more Zen-master than politician. He built his own house in Taos, he told me, because the skiing there is great; he climbed Everest in 2003; he injured himself severely in a paragliding accident in 2005. When he talks one on one, he remains wide-eyed, engaged and relaxed.


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We'll have to keep our eyes and ears open for Dr. Paul's support

for Gary Johnson. So far, so good. Anxious to hear Dr. Paul speak at CPAC this afternoon. It's on C-span 2 on my Directv.