I've been referred to as the ‘most fiscally conservative Governor’ in the country, was the Republican Governor of New Mexico from 1994-2003. I bring a distinctly business-like mentality to governing, believing that decisions should be made based on cost-benefit analysis rather than strict ideology.

I'm a avid skier, adventurer, and bicyclist. I have currently reached four of the highest peaks on all seven continents, including Mt. Everest.


I was a successful businessman before running for office in 1994. I started a door-to-door handyman business to help pay my way through college. Twenty years later, I had grown the firm into one of the largest construction companies in New Mexico with over 1,000 employees. .

I'm best known for my veto record, which includes over 750 vetoes during my time in office, more than all other governors combined and my use of the veto pen has since earned me the nickname “Governor Veto.” I cut taxes 14 times while never raising them. When I left office, New Mexico was one of only four states in the country with a balanced budget.

I was term-limited, and retired from public office in 2003.

In 2009, after becoming increasingly concerned with the country’s out-of-control national debt and precarious financial situation, the I formed the OUR America Initiative, a 501c(4) non-profit that promotes fiscal responsibility, civil liberties, and rational public policy. I've traveled to more than 30 states and spoken with over 150 conservative and libertarian groups during my time as Honorary Chairman.

I have two grown children - a daughter Seah and a son Erik. I currently resides in a house I built myself in Taos, New Mexico.


I've scaled the highest peaks of 4 continents, including Everest.

I've competed in the Bataan Memorial Death March, a 25 mile desert run in combat boots wearing a 35 pound backpack.

I've participated in Hawaii’s invitation-only Ironman Triathlon Championship, several times.

I've mountain biked the eight day Adidas TransAlps Challenge in Europe.

Today, I finished a 458 mile bicycle "Ride for Freedom" all across New Hampshire.


For more information you can check out my website www.GaryJohnson2012.com

Subreddit: r/GaryJohnson

EDIT: Great discussion so far, but I need to call it quits for the night. I'll answer some more questions tomorrow.

Comments: 4531 • Responses: 29  • Date: 

brezmans1951 karma

Governor Johnson,

I am a resident of Belgium, a country with one of the highest tax rates in the world. I love our social security system, our healthcare system, our education system and so on. All of this is only possible because of our high taxes. I can go to university for as little as 600 EUR a year (that's about 820 USD) at one of the finest universities of Europe, I can lose my job and go on unemployment benefits until I find a new job (unless I don't do any effort, at which point my "welfare" will be cut off), I can get sick without going into debt for years to come. All of this makes living in Belgium a blessing.

Now, i hear you are opposed against taxation, or at least against '"high taxes", but I can't help but wonder why. In the United States, people that get health issues are screwed, simply put. Health care is not mandatory and is completely in the hands of private corporations, making the prices very high and the exploitation by those same companies a daily business. University in the USA is almost unaffordable unless you choose a mediocre (at best) community college.

I can not understand why one would oppose taxes when you can do wonderful things when everybody pitches in. It's called socialism in the USA but apparently that's a dirty word, while it's completely accepted in Western Europe.

Can you explain to me why Belgium or any other country, like maybe the USA, should lower its taxes instead of raising them?

Thank you for your time, I have been wanting to ask this very same question to an economical libertarian for quite some time now and I am genuinely interested in your point of view.

GovGaryJohnson250 karma

The irony of your question is that what you are touting as wonderful 'as something for nothing' is not sustainable and it is be playing out right now all across Europe. It's kind of the root of the crisis.

We just saw a commitment to recapitalize Belgium's largest bank being played out on the world stage. I can't help but think what you are describing will have negative consequences for Europe and is in part what is behind the European crisis right now. I don't want to see these consequences played out in America.

Offering up all of those services and not borrowing money is one thing, but in the United States we are borrowing money to do these things.

As to why I'm opposed to raising taxes, in my opinion raising taxes handicaps economic growth.

Another factor maybe that the United States is subsiding these programs in Belgium given that we are picking up the world wide tab for military defense.

normal_verb_raucher88 karma

Whether or not you agree with him, answering a loaded question like that takes balls.

And if you read what he's said about "50 laboratories of innovation", he's hardly the type who would stop Vermont or Massachusetts from setting up their own socialized medicine systems.

GovGaryJohnson89 karma

Thanks. And absolutely - 50 laboratories of innovation. Some states might go a single payer route and others move in a more free market direction. Successes will be emulated and failures avoided.

cubemstr507 karma

Does it bother you that it seems like the Republican party has shifted its focus from being economically conservative to socially conservative?

GovGaryJohnson1198 karma

This is why I'm running to give voters a choice. Our country is in on the brink of financial disaster. We need to focus on the economy. The Republicans' focus on social issues will hurt the party.

(Edit: Fixed apostrophe!)

kyles08487 karma

Governor Johnson, thank you for taking the time to do this, I know it means a lot to the community.

As a hopeful challenger to Obama, how would the DEA under a Johnson presidency differ than the DEA has operated under President Obama?

GovGaryJohnson1328 karma

I hope to defang the DEA. It's my understanding I can deschedule marijuana as a class 1 narcotic by executive order and I will do that.

jeweloree407 karma

What's your take on the OWS protests? How would you address the demands of Occupy Wall Street?

GovGaryJohnson618 karma

I think OWS is a well founded disgust with the inequities that really have a root in government. As far as the demands go I'm weary of one voice coming out of OWS. I think it has a basis in the inequity that this country treats all of us, and I think the root of it is the government.

My candidacy is all about equal treatment from government.

anexanhume223 karma

Does this include reducing corporate input into government via lobbyists and the idea of "corporate personhood"?

GovGaryJohnson454 karma

I'm advocating the FairTax which in my opinion remedies all of the special interests.

There is something inherently wrong with corporate personhood. The issue is really transparency and who is giving what to whom.

peter-s370 karma

Why aren't you selling any official campaign merchandise? It's a fantastic way to raise money and promote your campaign.

GovGaryJohnson745 karma

Good question. I'm going to find that out tomorrow.

[Edit: The official store is now up: http://www.garyjohnson2012.com/buy-stuff]

cgamradt332 karma

You say you want to cut defense spending by 43%. What will you do besides getting out of the Middle East to achieve this goal?

GovGaryJohnson704 karma

It's the military in uniform. It's the bureaucratic civil support to those in uniform. It's nuclear warheads. It's intelligence. its' conflicts we're involved in. It's research and development, and it's military bases.

All of it with the notion that we can supply a strong national defense with the operative word being defense as opposed to offense and nation building.

laofmoonster280 karma

I made r/GaryJohnson almost a year ago, I never expected this much interest!

  1. What makes you more qualified to deal with foreign policy that the other Republican candidates? As a governor of a border state you probably dealt with Mexico on some occasion. But Jon Hunstman was a popular Governor and was ambassador to China. Romney has had 4+ years to brush up on foreign policy. Ron Paul and Bachmann (ugh, but still) deal with foreign policy every day in Congress.

  2. I know you're an athlete, but running for president is a fulltime job, are you sure you have enough time just to go door-to-door and canvass during your rides?

GovGaryJohnson221 karma

  1. Based on current foreign policy and all the experts that we have contributing to it, it seems to me that I'm not going to be at a disadvantage.

  2. I definitely enough time, but I may have logged more time doing it than anyone else.

Forthewolfx432 karma

Hello Mr.Johnson! A question if it is not too much to ask, if this is too silly you can just pass it by, Are there any similarities or relations between climbing mount everest and running for president? Thanks for the AMA.

GovGaryJohnson24 karma

There are endless similarities. Goal setting, determination, the ability to weather the storm, in my case breaking my leg prior to going to Everest and be faced with the question do I give up or do I make the best of a really bad situation.

GovGaryJohnson141 karma

PS: thanks for creating the r/GaryJohnson.

GovGaryJohnson269 karma

I'm going to watch the debate and will be twittering my answers


chrism3209 karma

What would be your 1st action as president? Thank you for doing this!

GovGaryJohnson399 karma

First action as president is to submit a balanced budget to congress in 2013. So my first action is to start this process which is to create a blue print for a 43% reduction in government spending.

[deleted]201 karma

Are you and only you answering these questions? Or are you getting and responding to them through an aide?

Be a bit informal with us - what's your favorite food to have for lunch when you're feeling lazy?

GovGaryJohnson512 karma

I have someone helping me type the answers up.


Thelurkingfapper186 karma

I'm gay? Is that fine? edit: I'm not even gay

GovGaryJohnson263 karma


I supported the repeal of DADT spoke on them dragging their feet on implementing the repeal.

mbutz166 karma

Thank you for doing this, Governor! My question is this. I know how you feel about women's rights to choose and LGBT rights and capital punishment and the like. But do you believe these issues are state's rights issues? Do you think each state has the right to decide what they want in regards to laws on these issues?

GovGaryJohnson323 karma

I do believe these are states issues. I'm also open to the argument that gay rights may be a civil rights issue that the federal government has a role in determining.

DasDingus139 karma

What do you consider to be the biggest obstacle that has prevented a fiscally conservative/socially liberal candidate from gaining traction on a nationwide scale? What can/should be done to change this?

On a related note, do you feel that the two party system is helping or hurting this country and would a viable 3rd party be a positive development for the American political landscape?

GovGaryJohnson269 karma

I am still laboring under the belief that this is going to be successful.

I've always have believed a viable 3rd party could be a positive development for the American political landscape.

tinyphilosopher134 karma

Governor Johnson, I think I'll ask something a few pragmatic libertarians have been wondering regarding your future goals--provided you don't secure the 2012 nomination do you have any plan to make some reentry into politics before then to gain traction for a later year--perhaps a run for U.S. Senate from New Mexico? Thanks.

GovGaryJohnson304 karma

No. This is it. This is an all out effort.

aaronob104 karma

I'm having a hard time seeing how FairTax is fair. Yes, it sounds fair because it is a tax on consumption. But the major consumers are the lower and middle classes. The upper class has an extremely high income, most of which they will save. So the poor and average American will be paying a much larger percentage of their income in taxes, while in comparison the rich hardly pay anything. Poor and middle class people will have a much heavier burden. It seems like an upper class method of tax evasion to me.

That is my reasoning behind it. I really like you and most of your ideals, but how do you think the FairTax is indeed fair?

Thank you, and good luck in your campaign!

GovGaryJohnson189 karma

There is a pre-bate as part of the FairTax.org proposal that has been around for many years. The pre-bate means the poor won't pay any taxes up to the poverty line. If people buy used goods they aren't taxed and they can save even more. Check out FairTax.org for more information.

[deleted]94 karma

Hey Governor! I have a few questions for you!

  • I'm a Santa Fe resident. What's the best way for me to help your campaign locally?

  • How do you feel about the overall current direction of New Mexico?

  • What are your feelings on the Railrunner? It's obviously not even close to solvent...should it be cut back, shut down, or kept running in its current form?

  • Do you feel Ron Paul slighted you in the last debate by not naming you as a hypothetical running mate?

Edit: Added a link to the Railrunner since most people outside New Mexico don't know what it is.

GovGaryJohnson134 karma

How to best help out - get online, get a bumper sticker, donate $25 or whatever might be appropriate, and get in contact with your state director.

For me the verdict is still out on NM.

I think the Railrunner needs to be shutdown.

I'll leave the answer about Ron Paul to you.

kraigory91 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! What do you see as the main differences between you and Ron Paul? You both obviously share very similar views, but I am curious if there is anything you disagree with him on.

GovGaryJohnson198 karma

Main differences are my business background and the executive experience I've had in my career.

We may have differing views on immigration, a woman's right to choose, gay issues, and Israel.

aaaaaasdfgrdgbfzs52 karma

Israel? You would continue all foreign aid? just some foreign aid(to Israel for one I guess) or stop all foreign aid. My understanding is that Paul would end all foreign aid.

GovGaryJohnson162 karma

I advocate ending all foreign aid, but I draw a distinction with military alliances believing military alliances are the key to having other countries share in the world vigil against terrorism and not just us allowing us to cut military spending by 43%.

shammgo89 karma

As president would you veto as much stuff as you did in New Mexico?

GovGaryJohnson223 karma

I promise to veto to expenditures that excede revenue. I believe I'll be vetoing as much or more stuff as President as I did as Governor.

Warlizard87 karma

It is a real pleasure to have you here!

Ok --

  1. From what I've read, you're a down-to-earth and unpretentious man. How do you think you would fare in the back-stabbing and duplicitous waters of Washington?

  2. We've been handed a slew of tepid candidates, all of whom seem to parrot the same tired slogans and phrases but who get to Washington and do nothing different. What single thing would you do that you think would make the greatest difference?

  3. How could you possibly help repair the gulf between Democrats and Republicans?

Thanks for your time and I wish you the best of luck.

GovGaryJohnson151 karma

  1. Good government was easy.

  2. I promise to submit a balanced budget to congress in 2013. I promise to veto expenditures that exceed revenue. Under this scenario spending would be less than any other scenario that I can imagine.

  3. I'm not going to pretend to be able to do that. Don't underestimate the power of the executive when it comes to rules and regulations and the running of the federal government.

frankandbean69 karma

You are pro-legalization of marijuana. How do you project getting this accomplished considering, what seems like, a majority of lawmakers unwilling to debate the merits of ending the prohibition?

GovGaryJohnson163 karma

It is my understanding that I can sign an executive order to reschedule marijuana from a schedule 1 narcotic.

Jovial_Bison65 karma

What is your opinion of the net neutrality movement?

GovGaryJohnson27 karma

I like the link.

My notion is to keep the Internet free and unhindered.

I attended the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas to show my support for the online poker players. Our government has made it illegal for millions of online poker players to spend their money how they choose. That's the government restricting these Internet users not ISPs.

Krakatau60 karma

What was climbing Mt. Everest like?

GovGaryJohnson122 karma

Everything that I thought it would be. It was wonderful to stand on top of the planet. It wonderful to be in Nepal.

jscoppe84 karma

I'd like to know if he passed any of those frozen corpses I've heard about.

GovGaryJohnson215 karma

Yes I did.

ColdStoneCreamAustin28 karma

I'm disappointed this hasn't been asked yet and it's probably too late but what are your views on the Second Amendment?

GovGaryJohnson60 karma

I think the Second Amendment means what it says that you have a right to keep an bear arms. I openly advocated for conceal carry when I was Governor.