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Jim Geraghty has long sounded the alarm about politicians who run campaigns not to win but as book tours. They mess up primaries, in particular, by creating noise that makes picking the right candidate harder and slows the unifying of the party before the general, while contributing nothing of value. At best, they offer an idea that the public can enjoy (although it’s much easier to find a memorable idea, like Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan, than an idea that has gone on to have an impact).
What is unusual about Johnson’s campaign, and unlike his last two efforts, is that he’s finally come out and said it. In an interview on Scott Steigler’s Stig show, he said “By ‘fully expect to win’ – I’ve won, because – is winning receiving more votes? Maybe that won’t be the case.” Then later “Winning? I’ve won, really. I’m sitting here with you. You wouldn’t have had me on any other way, right?” Stig says “If that’s your qualifier, we need to raise your standards.” Johnson responds “Does winning mean you get more votes?” Stig explains that “Winning does mean you get more votes. You can’t influence anything if you don’t, right?” And Johnson says “Well, maybe that’s not the case. That’s kind of what I’ve dedicated my life to, is talking about these issues as they should be talked about… You can argue that I didn’t stand a chance in either one of those [presidential] races.”