Jesse Ventura: “If They Allow Johnson To Debate, You Could See Him Win”

Former Independent Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura was interviewed on Coast to Coast AM by host George Noory for two hours this past Wednesday.

In comments transcribed below, Governor Ventura repeated his endorsement of Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson.  He also discussed the ballot access and presidential debate challenges faced by Third Party candidates generally, his offer to run with Ron Paul should Dr. Paul drop out of the Republican Primaries, and the possibility of his own run for President in 2016.

The full interview is available for downloading (fee required) at:


Coast to Coast AM excerpts, 25 July 2012, interview with Governor Jesse Ventura

Hour Two

01:20 – NOORY: “Tell me you’re going to come back into politics.”

VENTURA: “. . .  It’s so difficult as an Independent and there’s really only one office that I would try to seek if I did come back, and that would be the Presidency.  As a Third Party candidate it’s so difficult because you have to get ballot access in 50 different states. . . .  It would also be worthless unless I was guaranteed that I could be in the debates. . . .  The Democrats and the Republicans aren’t about to let a third entity into the game. . . . These two gangs . . . are very much like pro(fessional) wrestling.  In front of the public they’re adversaries . . . while behind the scenes . . . they’re business partners. . . . When I ran for Governor, all I heard from the mainstream media was:

“If you vote for Jesse you’re wasting your vote because he can’t win.”

“Minnesota proved that wrong. . . . I like to reverse that, George, and tell people this:”

“If you vote for a Democrat or a Republican you are wasting your vote because it does not matter who wins.”

. . .
04:45 – NOORY: “I thought for a moment we were going to either see Ron Paul and Jesse Ventura or Jesse Ventura and Ron Paul in a Third Party.”

VENTURA: “I made myself available to Dr. Paul if he would leave the Republican Party . . . I would have joined him had that happened because he carries power. He has power on the Internet; he has power with young people; he’s certainly going to carry some power at the Republican Convention. He won Minnesota hands down . . . Minnesota is loaded with Ron Paul Republicans and what I’m trying to urge all of them to do now is . . . switch over to Governor Gary Johnson like I am. He’s the Libertarian candidate, the former Governor of New Mexico who is a brilliant, honest man.”

NOORY: “Yes he is. There’s no doubt about that. Yet people like that, Jesse, get virtually no publicity.

VENTURA: “ . . . If they would allow Governor Johnson to debate with these other two, you could see him win.”

. . .

25:03 – NOORY: Any predictions on the November Presidential Election?

VENTURA: “No. Again, it doesn’t matter who wins; you’re going to get the same policies and the same government whether Obama wins or Romney wins. I’ll just state this; Obama is kind of the enemy we know and always remember what the late great Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead said, “If you’re made to pick the lesser of two evils it means you’re still picking evil.”

“I urge people to vote for Gary Johnson, of course, the Libertarian candidate.  All the Ron Paul people need to remember back in 1988 Dr. Paul was a Libertarian. So they should switch their allegiance to Gary Johnson now.”

. . .

38:55 – VENTURA: “I love my country but I hate my government because my government is nothing but Democrats and Republicans.”

Hour Three

19:00 – NOORY: “Will he (Ron Paul) come back in four years?

VENTURA: “No, I don’t think so. I think age limitation. Dr. Paul is already in his 70s. . . . Heck, the window for me is closing. If I were to decide to do it I’d probably have to decide no later than 2016 — four years from now because that window closes on you the older you get.”

NOORY: “Would you do it as a Libertarian if you decided to run then?”

VENTURA: “If I decided to run, it could be Libertarian. . . . It would take a grassroots movement of people out there in every state getting me on the ballot. If they could, between now and four years from now, get me on every ballot in all 50 states, then I would give it that consideration. I would close all our military bases . . . I would end the empire . . . I would work for campaign finance reform to kill this system of bribery . . . I would go to a national sales tax . . . you wouldn’t have to have it on food or clothing . . . I would cut defense 10 percent to spend (on private space exploration).”

The full interview is available for downloading (fee required) at:


For full disclosure, I have been a guest on Coast to Coast AM.  I also cast what I believe was the only vote for Jesse Ventura for President at the 2008 Libertarian Presidential Nominating Convention in Denver.

Coast to Coast AM airs on more than 560 stations in the U.S., as well as Canada, Mexico and Guam, and is heard by nearly three million weekly listeners. 

26 thoughts on “Jesse Ventura: “If They Allow Johnson To Debate, You Could See Him Win”

  1. Oranje Mike

    At times Jesse comes across as brilliant. At other times he sounds like a parrot of Alex Jones.

  2. George Whitfield

    Thank you for the posting. And thank you to Jesse Venture for endorsing Gary Johnson.

  3. Andy

    Yes, Gary Johnson would stand a chance at getting elected if he were to debate Obama and Romney on national television, and this is exactly why Obama and Romney will refuse to debate Gary Johnson.

    I think that all candidates who are on enough ballots to theoretically win the election ought to be included in the debates. Any candidate who refuse to debate should be disqualified from the race.

  4. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Andy: Any candidate who refuse to debate should be disqualified from the race.

    You’d need to amend the Constitution.

    Anyway, I disagree.

    I don’t think the people’s right to choose a candidate should be limited by whether that candidate wishes to participate in a debate or not.

    The people can decide for themselves if they wish to hold a candidate’s non-participation against him.

    There’s really nothing sacred about debates. Actually, I think they’re a pretty poor basis on which to choose a candidate. Many honest, principled, intelligent people aren’t very good speakers.

  5. Andy

    “You’d need to amend the Constitution.

    Anyway, I disagree.

    I don’t think the people’s right to choose a candidate should be limited by whether that candidate wishes to participate in a debate or not.

    The people can decide for themselves if they wish to hold a candidate’s non-participation against him.”

    I totally disagree. Public debates are essential for informing the public about the candidates for elected office. Any candidate who refuses to debate is an intellectual coward and does not deserve to be a candidate and should be removed from the ballot and disqualified from running. I would in fact go so far as to favor legislation mandating this. These people are running for a public office, so they damn well ought to be willing to debate the other candidates who passed through all of the ballot access hurdles (which the major parties put up to limit competition), and they damn well ought to be willing to answer some real questions in an unscripted debate.

    Don’t like it? Afraid to debate any of the other ballot qualified candidates? Then here’s a simple solution: don’t run for office.

    I’m sick and tired of cowardly weasel politicians from the major parties dodging the other ballot qualified candidates and participating in scripted debates in front of audiences which are filled with supporters of the major parties.

    Let’s have some real debates. Invite all of the candidates who are on enough ballots to win the election, and ask some real questions which are not known by candidates in advance.

    Most of the public doesn’t even know that there are other people running for President other than the candidates for the Democratic and Republican parties, and that’s the way these two parties like it.

  6. Be Rational

    It is possible that the best choice for President might not perform well in a debate format but could still be elected by showcasing his or her abilities in other ways.

    Mandatory debate partcipation by any candidate should not be a reuirement to being able to run or be elected to public office.

    Libertarians need to realize that our political enemies – no, they are not just opponents, they are enemies – in the Democratic and especially the Republican party, have no intention to assist us by allowing us in their “showcase” to debate and take votes from their very weak candidates.

    We have to create our own strategy to obtain the attention we seek in the public arena.

    Unfortunately, most Libertarians seem unwilling to do just that. They seem to prefer to whine, complain and protest their exclusion rather than to do the work and follow an alternate plan to leverage the assets we do have and make use of the system as it exists to grab the third ring and get our place in the public eye.

    The media is desperate for “news” and “views” that will earn them ratings points and the chance to make money through advertising. We need to help the media with something interesting, a hook that gives them a reason to cover us, for the public to watch, that allows the personalities who would showcase us the chance to promote their own careers in the process and for the media outlets to win over viewers and sell advertising.

    If we help the media in some way to acheive their goals, they will cover us.

    Why is this so difficult to understand?

  7. Ad Hoc

    G/L/C debates + chickensuits at podiums for “Romney” and “Obama” with “designated cluck time” + heavy use of facebook, youtube and twitter to spread them = win

    G/L/C debates with answers to videoed D/R debates to make it look like the G/L/C candidates are “there” + heavy use of facebook, youtube and twitter to spread them = win

    Tell a friend or two and tell them to tell a friend or two …

  8. Joseph

    @7 some very good points. I urge all Libertarians to read the Forbes article about The Grand Shi Strategy of Ron Paul. For too long we have acted like someone having drunk too much. We stagger from side to side on the sidewalk. Making much movement but little progress. I support GJ and will vote for him, but we need to be setting the table for 2016. A strategy must be developed to ensure we do not expend needless energy and capital on ballot access; the election cycle of 2014 can be used to accomplish this. There are many things we must do and 2012 can be used as a base from which to launch a new stratagem.

  9. Joe Buchman

    Joseph @ 7,

    There’s a focus here on maximizing vote totals 99 days from now AND there’s a sense of building something every day for the next 1,000+ days to have an organization/foundation/structure for one hell of a run in 2016. Ballot access will not stop. Lawsuits between now and 2014 against unfair state practices are being discussed. Ideas are welcome.

    So while I’m personally focused on what it would take to get Governor Johnson elected now (and frankly scared to death about what America may look like 4 years from now — 25+Trillion in debt, drones over the skies everywhere, swat teams replacing police and the US Army replacing swat teams, war in Iran, more drug users jailed, more protesters jailed, more “terrorists” from around the globe in CIA prisons . . . more federal takeover of business/health/education/housing/transportation/communication, NSA spy center here in Utah online) — and electing Gary 99 days from now is the only way I see to even begin to slow the inexorable advance of all that, I also see plenty of work to do between now and 2015/2016 to ensure a win then.

    Without that . . . what’s the use?

    Another R or D in office after another R or D term 4 years from now . . . or Wayne Root as the LP nominee in 2016 and I’ll move to Mongolia.


  10. Jimmy

    Johnson was in a few GOP debates and there wasn’t a groundswell of support for him.

  11. Joe Buchman

    Jimmy @ 11

    He clawed his way into two of those Republican Primary debates. In the second one, he was on screen for about 90 seconds.

    For the NEXT TWO DAYS “Gary Johnson” was the most searched for term on Google.

    Not a groundswell of support . . . not yet. But look at his first campaign for Governor of New Mexico — 2 percent to elected in almost no time. The constraining factor is not ideas, not the candidate, not the message — it’s just money for national advertising, or the just the right note in a video that could cause it to go viral.

    There’s also the question of what Ron Paul will do/where his support will go in very late August/early September. 15 percent in the polls is entirely possible for Governor Johnson by mid September. The question is — will the CPD wait that long to issue invitations, or decide it’s too little too late?

    They do not have an announced date for when a candidate must be polling at 15 percent.

    And there’s the everlasting frustration of getting the polling companies to even include the Governor’s name in their presidential preference questionnaire.

    So just a couple of things we’re working on around here.



  12. Green Party Voter

    I know Jesse Ventura. He’s a great fellow. What he has said here could also be true of the Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein.

    Dr. Stein is a gifted candidate.

  13. Be Rational


    Hello Joe,

    Since you are inside the campaign, your words are the closest thing we have to understanding the camaign’s thinking.

    The campaign is waiting and pleading for a miracle, not working to break through the fog and silence that separates Gary Johnson from the world of public discourse.

    The campaign is waiting for the Republican convention, hoping for the Ron Paul supporters to flock, en masse, to their rescue.

    The campiagn is crying to the polling organizations to be included; and when they are included and come up at just 2% in several states, the polling organizations have their own biases confirmed as having been correct… Cart before the horse after all, the campaign has done nothing to be noticed by the public, so why push to be polled among people who have never heard of you?

    The campaign whines and protests to the media about not being covered; But why cover a campaign that can do nothing but whine and protest.

    The campaign hopes and crosses its collective fingers that some little video that few people ever see will somehow “go viral” and result in an avalanche of attention and funds; fat chance for political issues with a general public that is largely apathetic, disinterested, uninformed and distracted by other hot and sexy issues.

    The campaign waits, whines and wishes to be included in the national debates – but they haven’t done anything to earn their inclusion.

    … so the campaign is waiting, whining, wishing … wasting the opportunities that do exist …

    Will we run our OWN advertising on paid broadcast major network TV, targeted one state at a time, starting with the smallest, cheapest states?

    Will we fundraise – it should be happening NOW, so I guess not – to raise money, 100% guaranteed to be spent on targeted broadcast TV air time, so as to maximize our fundraising and potential impact?

    Do we have any TV spots in production that can be broadcast – none of the YouTube spots are TV ready – and have you contacted Travis Irvine for production?

    Has the Johnson campaign begun the aquisition of advertising rates for every available TV broadcast and cable operation in the primary list of small states that has been discussed on numerous threads by many posters?

    We should be rolling out soon in WY, ME, AK for starters.

    Do the managers of the Johnson campaign have enough leadership ability to carry out their function as leaders; especially, do they have the ability to follow others on specific items and projects when the best options are laid out before them?

    The rest of us will have to wait, watch and wonder what is going on …

  14. ATBAFT

    Realistically, GJ is not going to get into the debates.
    The ‘best chance” is if President Obama insisted that
    GJ be included as the price of Obama’s participation.
    This would require convincing Obama’s handlers that the election was so close that they needed to subtract from Romney’s votes and that GJ would draw primarily from Romney-leaning voters.
    Can this case be made? Who on the GJ team is in touch with the Obama campaign? The vast majority of LP members should not care if Obama or Romney is the victor but care very much that GJ’s positions get wide-spread attention and “seed” future
    political power for Libertarians.

  15. Be Rational

    @17 You are hoping that someone else will let us in the debates. Realistically this will not happen.

    Our best chance will come when we stop wishing, begging, pleading and hoping and actually try to earn our own way into the debates.

    We have to get out there and show enough support so that the other candidates are afraid NOT to invite Gary Johnson to the debate … or whoever in 2016 and beyond.

    Understanding that we have to do it ourselves is the first step.

    Understanding that you cannot shoot an arrow through the air sideways nearly as far as you can with the point facing forward is the second.

  16. NewFederalist

    “I know Jesse Ventura. He’s a great fellow. What he has said here could also be true of the Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein.”

    But he didn’t.

  17. Joe Buchman

    Be Rational @ 16 and @18 — I hear you.

    Money is the “mother’s milk” of politics. I’ve been on calls discussing the need for higher quality video and how to best achieve that. We’ve raised about $170,000 for radio advertising which is due to start soon. There’s a million dollars that a Super Pac has, but we do not, by law, coordinate with them. I’m a frustrated Libertarian too, and doing what I can to move things forward (my accountability is vetting candidates who ask for the governor’s endorsement, then maximizing the value of that as best we can — including the conference calls, campaign materials, etc. And I do it as a volunteer (I can afford to, and until the campaign gets $100 million plus, I’d rather not be paid and do see that go to other priorities. (I can hear Ayn approving — it’s NOT altruism, it’s sacrifice for values I believe in; values that if gone from the world would leave me not wanting to live in it).

    I think we’ve still got a shot to get in those debates — that’s the focus here as far as I can tell — and the only thing missing is the money to buy the media time. The ideas, the candidate, the website, the viral materials, the basics are all here, along with a lot of hard working people. 98 days, or as Grant in the office says — 18 more Sundays.

  18. Be Rational

    @20 It’s good to hear that the campaign has raised $170,000 for advertising. Radio should not be first. Perhaps they will be targeting by state, at least. Spread nationwide it won’t have much impact.

    Libertarians need to learn something the Ds and Rs already get: in the US there are no “national” elections, there are 50 simultaneous State elections for Presidential electors. This gives us a chance to target and have an impact. It is a great benefit to a third party smart enough to use the system.

  19. Gary Johnson Needs You !

    Please place Gary Johnson yard signs on all major hiways in your area. And please keep them up until election day. This is one thing we all can do to reach millions with Gary’s name and campaign.

    Money matters and until the money is present TV ads are “irrational” to say the least. Help raise funds and give to the campaign yourselves then maybe TV ads will come someday !!!


    Become a LP ACTIVIST where you live, SPREAD THE MESSAGE:

    Libertarian Products and Supplies make GREAT GIFTS too: http://www.LPSTUFF.COM/shop

  20. Ventura 2016

    Honestly, I think Jesse is setting himself up for a run in 2016. I could see him trying to recruit Gary Johnson on his ticket if he would consider it. Though, Jesse has the real name-recognition that it would be hard for the media to ignore him and he would be a great asset as running 3rd party.

    If Obama is re-elected like most think he will, it’ll be up for grabs in 2016 as I suspect even more partisanship amongst the parties. I don’t think Clinton or Biden will run which makes the Presidency and open-book.

    I’m sure some politicos are in Jesse’s ear that he would have a real shot at making noise in 2016. Probably wouldn’t win but he would get into the debates and do very well amongst young people.

  21. Be Rational

    @23 This radio spot doesn’t really work as an introductory ad to a general public that is as yet unaware of Gary Johnson. It would be OK as a radio ad-on to an existing TV campaign to reinforce what viewers had already seen (the TV version of the ad).

    However, the TV version of this spot is also not the best for a lead-off, introductory ad.

    We need a good TV spot that introduces Gary Johnson, former Governor of NM, Libertarian for POTUS. It should be run on major network Broadcast TV. This comes first.

    A radio spot to reinforce the TV spot can come next.

    The “be L with me” TV spot on major Broadcast TV can come 3rd along with a radio spot 4th.

    This should begin in the 3 smallest states with the best LP potential to get some leverage and party building underway: WY, AK, ME.

    We can afford to start major network Broadcast TV and do it now – if we target by state, starting with the smallest. This will prove we are serious and allow the campaign to show results to donors and the media.

  22. Pingback: Jesse Ventura: “If They Allow Johnson To Debate, You Could See Him Win” | Liberty Package

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