When I told former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson that President Barack Obama used to run three miles per day, he wasn't impressed.
I do the equivalent of running 15 miles a day. That's 45 miles biking, said Johnson, an avid triathlete. Nowadays, though, he said he's too busy campaigning to keep up with that kind of daily routine.
Johnson also mentioned that in 2003 he broke his leg and climbed Mount Everest shortly afterward.
You break your leg -- you can choose to overcome it, or you can just give up, he said.
Perhaps it is this kind of fierce determination that has fueled him to run for the presidency of the United States in 2012 on such a radical platform.
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Johnson's positions are radical not because they are inherently crazy but because they are vastly different from the mainstream status quo -- both by Democratic and Republican standards.
He told me he supports a Fair Tax, which involves getting rid of all federal income and payroll taxes in lieu of a federal retail sales tax.
He said it is a much fairer and simpler system than the current mess we have. When asked what he would do to create more jobs in the U.S., a Fair Tax was one of his main solutions.
The former governor also wants to disburse Medicare and Medicaid funds as block grants to states. He thinks some states will use the money very effectively, while others will not. Eventually, all states will adopt the practices of the most effective states, he said.
Other unorthodox positions he holds include ending the Federal Reserve's mandate of maximum employment, recalling many military troops stationed aboard, and legalizing marijuana. Johnson himself, though, avoids marijuana, eschews alcohol, and limits his sugar intake.
Many, including myself, think the reality is that his radical proposals -- even if they make perfect sense -- will never pass in a polarized Congress, which can't even seem to push through relatively mainstream legislation.
Johnson, however, doesn't let that bother him.
The right ideas are worth fighting for, he said. Also, if the American people vote him and his platform into the White House, they would be a screaming voice that Congress can't afford to ignore, he said.
Johnson's big ambitions don't stop there.
He said he promises to submit a balanced budget (accomplished through spending cuts) to Congress within one year in office.
I told him that's not going to pass in Congress.
He was unfazed.
He said he would simply veto any legislation for which the expenditure exceeds the revenue. If Congress overrides his veto, then so be it, he said.
His premise is that government spending under his course of action, regardless of how Congress reacts, will be lower than the spending under a prudent president who promises to balance the budget in 15 years.
This line of reasoning is illustrative of how Johnson works. He doesn't set prudent, safe goals. He shoots for the moon and drives fiercely at it, even if he may not accomplish his goals right away.
In Obama's autobiography, he said running three miles a day helped turn him from a casual drug user and an underachiever to a young man who fasted on Sundays and spent most of his time reading literature and philosophy.
Johnson said his exercise routine taught him goal setting and perseverance.
It is with this goal-oriented mindset that he is running for the presidency of the United States. It was with this mindset that he dared to climb Mount Everest with his leg in questionable condition.
Come check me out, see if you agree: garyjohnson2012.com, he said.