With Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis presently sucking the wind out of the Republican presidential sweepstakes, it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to distinguish others further back in the GOP field.
There's South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who drew swatches of publicity with his announcement for president on Monday. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has been on the hustings for months. And entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy has been a fixture on Sunday talk shows of late.
Then there's another entrepreneur, who may break out of the pack. Widely known in Michigan as the "quality guru," Perry Johnson has blitzed Iowa and New Hampshire in recent weeks, and he has signed on a campaign team that includes operatives in both of those states that are so crucial to nomination.
Todd Cheewing, former political director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, is Johnson's top agent in the Granite State. And, in what is almost a nod to Trump and his decade-plus hosting "The Celebrity Apprentice," Johnson has begun the filming of his own reality show for cable TV as he commences on the campaign trail.
So why, at age 75 and with a net worth estimated at more than $20 million, is the Michigander making a long-shot bid for president — and willing to deploy large swatches of his personal exchequer to do so? (His campaign recently put on a commercial during the Super Bowl.)
"Because I love this country and it's now in serious peril," Johnson told Newsmax last week.
Much like the late businessman-independent presidential hopeful Ross Perot in 1992, Johnson is focused on the $32 trillion national debt and warns that "spending more on interest on the national debt than on defense" places the U.S. in a dangerous situation.
His plan to get U.S. government spending out of the red rests on federal spending being reduced 2% each year.
Johnson plans to get pundits, politicians, and primary voters focusing on the debt through his book, "Two Cents To Save America," as well as through the pending TV program with which he plans to blitz primary states. Having devised and overseen programs that eliminated the need for quality control in many businesses, Johnson was sought out to pursue the Republican nomination for governor in his home state last year, after the party's presumed frontrunner had faltered. Former three-term Gov. John Engler lead the charge for the entrepreneur to run.
"I was certainly interested and there was strong support," Johnson said, though he and another candidate found themselves falling short of the signatures required to make the primary ballot — almost solely because of a firm they retained to collect the signatures turned in many that were fraudulent and invalid.
"It was very disappointing," recalled Johnson, who filed an unsuccessful lawsuit to get added to the ballot, "but since I didn't make the ballot, you can't say I ran for office before and was defeated."
On other issues, the Michigan man will match his conservatism against any of the other GOP prospects. He is a hardline foe of Communist China, a strong defender of the right to keep and bear arms, and unabashedly pro-life.
Last month, Johnson issued a sharp statement against fellow contender Ramaswamy after he called for raising the voting age from 18 to 25. "Our focus needs to be on making sure we stop the indoctrination of our children with radical left-wing ideologies, not amending the Constitution to call more people children," his statement said.
For Perry Johnson, making it into the top tier of GOP hopefuls is, at this point, questionable. Making the debt issue one for all Republican contenders to discuss and voice possible solutions, on the other hand, is at least very plausible.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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