One surprise this past weekend at the Turning Point Conference was that a man named Perry Johnson came in second to Donald Trump when the group's straw poll was announced.
While Trump easily won the poll with 86% of respondents backing the former president, Johnson grabbed a healthy 8% with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lagging at 4% and others well behind.
So who is this Perry Johnson?
Johnson, 75, is a Michigan multimillionaire who self-styles himself a "quality guru."
The Republican presidential candidate boasts he helped save the auto manufacturing industry in the U.S. by "writing the book on the quality controls."
Johnson seems to click with grassroots conservatives, having placed third in a CPAC straw poll earlier this year.
Johnson is running on his "Two Cents to Save America" plan, which he outlined in a book that has become his campaign mantle.
"Two Cents" also bears a foreword from Art Laffer, the famed Reagan-era economist who is the father of supply-side tax cuts.
"My two-cents plan to save America will lower inflation, give our economy a much needed boost, allow us to lower taxes, and give Americans the ability to live again," according to Johnson.
His plan cuts government spending two cents on every dollar per year. It won't cut Social Security and Medicare, he noted.
"If Washington cuts the budget just 2% per year, problem solved," Johnson said in his "Perry Who" campaign ad earlier this year.
Johnson last ran for office in Michigan's 2022 GOP gubernatorial primary, but Democrats appeared to fear his nomination with election officials, bouncing him from the ballot and citing petition technicalities.
In the presidential campaign, Johnson has been reaching out to younger voters in a Ross Perot-like campaign — albeit this one in the Republican Party. That strategy appears to be paying off with the strong support at the youth-oriented Turning Point.
Johnson positions himself as a businessman with a reality TV show following his campaign bus tours in early primary states Iowa and New Hampshire.
The reality show airs on social media and he has purchased air time for it on Newsmax, typically broadcasting on Sundays at 9 p.m. EST.
"A staunch conservative disappointed by the downward turn the economy has taken at the hands of Democrats like Joe Biden, Johnson has set his sights on overhauling the most inefficient institution in the nation — the federal government," his campaign website declares.
"Johnson just finished his 'Fire Biden Bus Tour' in Iowa where we made a commitment to put a 'Fire Biden' yard sign in front of as many homes in America as possible."
Johnson is still chasing the Republican National Committee threshold of 40,000 donations to reach the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, debate stage in August.
But his campaign says donor numbers are rising, especially as he gives away copies of his "Two Cents" book for just $1.
"Johnson is a businessman, not a career politician, who is a fresh face in the conservative movement," his campaign website adds.
Johnson likes to say he's Trump with none of the baggage, touting he's a strong conservative economically and also proudly pro-life, pro-gun, pro-American worker, anti-woke, and anti-China.
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