Presidential candidate Gary Johnson is just looking for a platform.
Not one composed of policy positions—he’s got one of those. As the Libertarian Party’s nominee, Johnson champions a socially liberal, fiscally conservative brand of politics that he thinks could draw major-party defectors this year.
No, what Johnson needs now is a much higher-profile stage and a microphone—so he can reach more Americans than a candidate from his party ever has before. And Thursday night, in his first late-night network-TV appearance, he got a big one.
“A woman’s right to choose, marriage equality, legalizing marijuana,” Johnson rattled off in an interview on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, introducing some of his party’s values to the mainstream audience. “Come on—let people make choices in their own lives that only people should be making.”
Johnson’s visit to the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, along with his running mate Bill Weld, was but the latest stop in his gimme-more-free-media tour. The two-time Libertarian Party nominee is chasing bigger poll numbers both so he can grow his now-niche base and so he can qualify for the presidential debates, which third parties see as key to securing legitimacy and greater popularity. Johnson has bemoaned the lack of coverage he has received in the past, but in recent weeks, things have started to pick up. He got silly on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on Comedy Central; gave his longest C-SPAN interview ever, a point of pride; and is now pretty regularly featured in mainstream political stories. While his poll numbers are not as high as they need to be—15 percent in multiple surveys to make the debates—they are higher than they were last cycle. And it’s a victory for Johnson that he has been included in polling at all.