Gov. Gary Johnson stopped by the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual gala last night. It was the libertarian think tank’s 27th fundraising dinner, but the first Johnson had ever attended. The crowd was studded with D.C. free market activists, supporters and could-be supporters. They gave Johnson a warm welcome, which he sort of needed after confirming that he would not be invited to Monday’s Republican primary debate in New Hampshire.
Johnson’s not the first candidate to be stiffed like this; others have booked tickets, showed up in the town where the debate’s being held, and talk to reporters. Would Johnson do that?
“No,” he said. “It would be awkward, very awkward.” He paused to get a non-alcoholic beverage at the pre-dinner open bar. The question sat uneasy with him. “I never thought this would be part of the equation, ever. I thought I’d have a seat at the table.”
Party-goers recognized Johnson and crossed the room to talk to him; an activist with the Poker Players Alliance, one of the leaders of GOProud. Between talks, I asked Johnson if he thought Anthony Weiner should resign. Johnson was less harsh than some Democrats have been.
“We’ll let the electorate make the judgment as to whether he should leave office or not,” he said. “It was just bad judgment on his part.”
The dinner kicked off; Johnson got a decent table toward the front. A bit later the emcee, Andrew Langer of the Institute for Liberty, informed the crowd that two distinguished guests had made it in.
“Former Gov. Jim Gilmore of Virginia!”
Gilmore got up and waved to very polite applause.
“And former Gov. Gary Johnson, of New Mexico!”
Johnson stood up; insofar as a dinner crowd can “go wild,” that was what happened.