09/02/2012 11:22 am ET Updated Nov 02, 2012

Gary Johnson Feels 'So Much Better' Not Being A Republican Anymore

WASHINGTON -- It was another hot, humid day earlier this summer, and Gary Johnson was in town again. This time he didn't offer to come to HuffPost's offices. We would meet at Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle.

"Isn't that kind of a date place?" asked a colleague. "It's like, 'Look how well read I am!'"

But if we'd hoped to find America's Libertarian presidential nominee fingering a copy of Friedrich Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom," we were gravely disappointed. He arrived about a half beer after my editor and I did, and was interested in neither the books nor the bar.

People have talked about Johnson as an election spoiler, theorizing endlessly about from which camp he'll draw most heavily and in which states. That's a conversation he hopes they keep on having. It's good publicity after all, and though he served two terms as the Republican governor of New Mexico, he has no qualms about taking votes away from the GOP. "I long to be a spoiler in this race," he said.

Those sentiments were only reaffirmed by watching last week's Republican National Convention, according to Joe Hunter, Johnson's press secretary who was on the ground at the convention in Tampa, Fla.

"He was not hearing what needs to be said from the Republican standpoint on balancing the budget," Hunter said.

What Republicans characterized as bold still isn't bold enough for Johnson, who advocates balancing the budget by cutting $1.4 trillion in spending in 2013. Plus, there's his distaste for the party platform on social issues.

"I was going to go to my grave labeled a Republican," Johnson said that summer day. "I feel so much better. I really do."