4 things you should know from Gary Johnson & Bill Weld’s livestream with the New York Times

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After accepting the Libertarian nomination for president last Sunday, Gary Johnson spent more than half of his speech giving an impassioned plea to convention delegates on behalf of his at vice presidential preference, Bill Weld.

Johnson cited the dozens of national media interviews Weld had done in just the two weeks since throwing his hat in the ring, compared to not a single one done by 2012 Libertarian VP nominee Jim Gray.

Since both former governers accepted their respective nominations less than a week ago, they’ve continued the unprecedented pace of media hits for Libertarian candidates.

Wednesday they added another, more 21st Century, appearance to the schedule - an hour-long interview with New York Times political reporters broadcast live on Facebook. Other than the mediocre video quality, the interview was fascinating for its unique breadth and depth.

It’s worth a full view for political junkies, but here is the executive summary.

1. Johnson and Weld haven’t developed a singular policy vision.

Perhaps a feature of an individualist libertarian ticket, though a problem for other parties, the presidential and vice presidential nominees very obviously aren’t on the same page on the campaign as a whole or major issues.

When asked about a replacement for Obamacare, Johnson went straight to free market solutions and a state-based approach. Weld pivoted instead to his support for the individual mandate and Mitt Romney’s plan in his home state. The ticket is less than a week old, but if they want to sell a clear, liberty-based policy vision as an alternative to schizophrenic Trumpism and Clintonian statism, they should probably have a platform meeting.

2. Johnson was right - Weld will be huge for fundraising.

Another part of Johnson’s pitch to Libertarian delegates was Weld’s significant fundraising experience. As a two-time governor of a state with three times the population of Johnson’s, Weld has raised exponentially more money for campaigns. He also unsuccessfully ran for governor of New York and helped Mitt Romney fundraise for his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.

After arriving a few minutes late to the interview, Weld was asked about potential donors. While his answer may make casual observers fall asleep and ideological activists wince, his grasp of the details of campaign finance will be essential to a ticket looking to finally make its party a competitive alternative.

3. Weld might be too cozy with the Clintons.

After serving as governor, Bill Weld was nominated by Bill Clinton to serve as ambassador to Mexico. His nomination was blocked by conservative Republicans in the Senate over his socially moderate views.

Weld’s executive experience probably wasn’t the only qualifier the Clintons considered; he also worked with Hillary on the House Judiciary impeachment of Nixon, even giving warm anecdotes about their time sharing an office together.

Even on her email scandal, which is objectively getting more serious, Weld said he saw no problem, and without any obvious “criminal intent” an indictment would be unlikely. Perhaps more dismaying was his approval of her tenure as Secretary of State, during which the entire Muslim world was set ablaze and Russia resumed its old Soviet expansionism.

4. Johnson/Weld is no showboat, but it just might work.

Although it was not a formal campaign event with the candidates looking to woo or wow voters, the Times interview was a dry, bloodless affair. Johnson can be a witty, engaging speaker, but Weld appears wholly passionless.

While Weld is supremely qualified for the position designed primarily as an understudy president, its more recent role of campaign attack dog leaves him rudderless. But maybe that’s the point.

Johnson and Weld’s calm grasp of the issues will serve as an invaluable contrast to Trump’s vitriolic invective and Clinton’s shrill identity politics. They won’t cut into each opponent’s base that way, but they may convince enough level-heads in the middle to matter…or win.

As Weld said, “The ambition, the hope, the wish is definitely to win the whole thing, either outright or in the House.”


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