That might be news to you, since there haven't been many polling firms of any national note including his name when they survey registered and/or likely voters (Though Gallup on Friday did publish a survey showing Johnson with 3 percent of the vote).
"We’ve got all the telephone numbers (to the pollsters) listed on our website, Garyjohnson2012.com and hey, just get on the phone and ask them to include my name. That’s all," he said succinctly when the issue came up.
The former New Mexico Governor (1994-2002) says that in most national surveys, there's around 10 percent that don't choose either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney — and he believes that 10 percent is his, if pollsters included his name when they call up voters about the 2012 race, notwithstanding the Gallup poll.
The lack of respect for third-party candidates in most national elections, and especially in presidential races, is long and profound. Yes, Ross Perot who was able to get nearly 19 percent of the vote in 1992. John Anderson got 8 percent in 1980. But no one else has done better than that in decades. Even Ralph Nader, derided to this day by some liberals for allegedly taking votes from Democrat Al Gore in 2000, only obtained 2.7 percent of the vote that year.
Johnson actually participated in two of the 20 GOP debates held during the 2011-2012 campaign season, though you may be forgiven for not having noticed. He said his fate was sealed when CNN excluded him from the second debate in 2011, but the first one with a large audience (the one that catapulted Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann to the top of the charts).
"Just include my name," he says again, detailing how late last summer in a CNN poll ahead of an upcoming debate he was tied with Herman Cain, and ahead of Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum, yet wasn't invited to the debate. He then discusses how Jesse Ventura recently endorsed him on CNN live. He then says that part of the interview was deleted from the cable news network's website. But before appearing again on the network he says the former Minnesota governor contacted his campaign requesting a Johnson for president T-shirt to wear.
"But guess what? He had his T-shirt on but CNN blocked it out with lettering, so it didn’t show what he was wearing. Now that is manipulation of the process in ways that just go completely unnoticed by everybody. It’s not fair."
Johnson didn't sound particularly aggrieved or saddened by the state of affairs as he spoke with Cl in the outside patio at Gasper Grotto's in Ybor City on Friday afternoon. A bit frustrated? That would be fair. The indignities of running as a third-party candidate are very real, and he feels at least by addressing them he can get more people to allow him the chance to compete on a somewhat even playing field, minus the hundreds of millions of dollars the big boys are raising and spending every day on 60-second ads.
As far as Johnson's philosophy, it's fairly well known by now. Relatively liberal when it comes to the rights of gays to marry and people to smoke pot, harshly conservative when it comes to cutting spending and getting government out of the lives of Americans.
Needless to say he's not a supporter of President Obama's signature health care reform law. Nor the prescription drug plan voted in back in 2003 when Republicans controlled all branches of government.
But when challenged about the fact that the prescription drug plan at least addressed the huge need to control drug prices that were forcing elderly Americans to cross into Mexico and/or Canada, Johnson's response seems a bit well, cold blooded.
"I would be taking the argument that fundamentally high drug costs have a root in government rules and regulations and laws that really limit supply and establish gigantic liabilities that can only be overcome with FDA approval," he explains, adding that protectionist legislation "surrounds" drug manufacturers.
Like some of your more Tea Party like conservatives in Washington, Gary Johnson isn't into compromise per se, at least not when it comes to budgetary issues. But he's not against the practice altogether.
“What we have to embark on in this country is mutual sacrifice. Because if we don’t fix this, we’re all going down together," he says. "Let’s compromise making civil liberties better. Let’s compromise in the whole notion of how do you make these spending reductions. But compromise right now in Washington is just code for spending more money, that’s all it is," he laments.
As reported by Real Clear Politics' Erin McPike, climate change has effectively become a non-issue in this current campaign, despite the fact that record breaking heat continues to encompass most of the U.S.
Gary Johnson says unlike many in his former party, he does believe in man-made global warming. However, he is decidedly against policies such as cap and trade or a carbon tax, saying either would "devastate the economy." Instead he believes that market forces will deter carbon emissions.
"I think you and I as consumers are demanding less carbon emissions and we're going to get it, so that energy production 50 years from now will be cleaner than it is," he says, more optimistically than what a lot of environmentalists believe.
After speaking to a few dozen people at Gasper's Grotto, a handful stayed around to speak with Johnson directly. Among them was De'Andre Long, a native Tampa resident who is a registered independent.
"I really appreciate his enthusiasm," he said of Johnson, adding that he likes candidates that take ideas from both major political parties.
But having said that, Long still says he's leaning towards supporting President Obama this time around.