02:13 - Source: CNN
Gary Johnson explains recent gaffes

Story highlights

"I think the guy's toast," Johnson said about Trump

He also said he believes Trump's accusers that have come forward

CNN —  

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson won’t be on the final debate stage Wednesday night, but he still believes voters should pick him over Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

“We’re not doing this to take votes away from either side. We’re out here to offer people a real alternative,” he said in a wide-ranging interview with CNN’s Dana Bash Tuesday during an outdoor “Politics on Tap” event on the Las Vegas strip.

Johnson used the opportunity to speak out against Trump’s recent claims that the election is rigged.

“No, elections are not rigged,” he said. “Why does he continue to say these things day after day? I have no clue.”

He went on to say that the claims may cost Trump the election.

“I think the guy’s toast. I don’t think people are going to vote for him.”

GOP congressman: No, the election isn’t rigged

When asked about the recent allegations from women who say Trump inappropriately groped them, Johnson did not hesitate to say he believes them. He also strongly criticized the Republican nominee for the lewd language he used in the recently published 2005 recording.

“I think that his comments that he made were beyond inappropriate,” Johnson said. “And he says, ‘Gee, that’s locker room talk’ … Nine women have come forward, that goes beyond locker talk. That’s reality.”

Trump has denied all the allegations, suggesting they are surfacing now because of a “smear” campaign to derail his candidacy.

But Johnson did not only have harsh words for the Republican nominee. Unlike his running mate – former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who has said he will focus exclusively on beating Trump – Johnson argued he doesn’t think Clinton should be president either.

“There’s just so much out there,” he said. “The revelations what I find incredible are saying one thing to Wall Street and saying one thing to Main Street.”

He continued: “If Hillary Clinton is elected president, government spending will go up … We’re going to continue to drop bombs.”

Trump adviser: Whoever loses needs to give concession speech to ‘help bring America back together’

While Johnson is only polling at 6% nationally, according to CNN’s most recent poll of polls, swing state polling shows he could make a difference between a Trump or Clinton victory in key states like Ohio, Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina.

High-profile surrogates like Michelle Obama have cautioned on the trail against voting for third party candidates saying it is “throwing away your vote.” Johnson argues it is just the opposite: “Throwing your vote away is voting for somebody that you don’t believe in.”

Despite several recent embarrassing foreign policy gaffs, Johnson spoke fluently about the recent efforts to recapture Mosul.

“In the end, it’s going to be Iraq and its government being able to maintain control over Mosul if it’s going to be successful,” he said.

When it comes to the longer term goal of defeating ISIS, Johnson agreed the United States needs to be involved in fighting terrorism and praised President Barack Obama for recognizing the important role that regional partners must play, but cautioned against the US contributing to the “net number of deaths.”

“When we bomb ourselves I think innocent people get killed and the threat to the United States rises as a result of that,” he said. “I don’t want to be a part of the United States adding to the death tolls in these countries.”

At one point during the conversation, Bash asked Johnson if he was high when he asked, “What is Aleppo?” during a now infamous interview. Johnson, who has been outspoken about his views in favor of legal marijuana, said that he has not been using the drug during the campaign and explained that it was simply “a brain fart.” He laughed at himself when searching for words later in the interview, saying “I’m not having a moment.”

Johnson was also brutally honest when asked why he’s not getting national security briefings that he requested along with Clinton and Trump. “I’m just not relevant,” he said.

In a lightening round of questions at the end of the event, Johnson summed up his view of his role in the race with a creative answer to a question from Bash about what he would say to Trump and Clinton if he was trapped in an elevator with them. “Don’t worry, I’ll figure a way out of this,” he said laughing. “I’m the handiest guy that you have ever met.” Johnson finished with a poignant note, “Much as I love you both, I’m going to save you both.”