Gary Johnson Says 2016 Race ‘Real Opportunity’ for Libertarian Party

"Clinton and Trump are the two most polarizing figures in politics today."

ByABC News
May 8, 2016, 12:01 PM

— -- Donald Trump’s new status as the presumptive Republican nominee has some “Never Trump” conservatives calling for a new third party candidate, but Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson says they should consider him as their alternative instead.

“I think it is a real opportunity,” Johnson said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I do think that Clinton and Trump are the two most polarizing figures in politics today.”

The former two-term governor of New Mexico hasn’t yet secured the Libertarian Party nomination, but if he does at the party’s convention on May 27, this November won’t be the first time he’s competed against Democratic and Republican nominees.

In 2012, Johnson appeared on the ballot opposite President Barack Obama and then-Republican nominee Mitt Romney, winning just 1,211,982 votes, roughly one percent of total votes cast.

By appearing on the ballot opposite presumptive nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who both boast record-breaking unfavorability numbers, Johnson sees an opportunity to top his 2012 numbers. Key to his success would be the 43 percent of Americans who identify as political independents, according to a Gallup poll conducted last year.

“Where’s their representation,” he asked. “I think it happens to be Libertarian.”

When asked if his candidacy would only end up drawing votes away from Trump and ensure Clinton’s victory, Johnson rejected the idea.

“No, absolutely not,” he said, pointing to a recent Monmouth University poll that showed him not only taking more votes away from Clinton than from Trump in a three-way matchup, but also breaking double digits in support at 11 percent.

Johnson wouldn't even entertain a forced a choice between Trump and Clinton, declining to state which of the two were closer to him politically.

“I’m always believing that there’s going to be a Libertarian on the ballot,” he said.