Highlighting his background as both a governor and outdoor adventurer, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson announced his presidential campaign outside the New Hampshire Statehouse on Thursday before heading for a mountain known as the birthplace of extreme skiing.
Johnson, a Republican, acknowledged that he is virtually unknown in New Hampshire and other key primary states but said he won't be outworked when it comes to retail politics.
"I have to do, and want to do, really well in New Hampshire," he said. "So I'm going to spend a lot of time in New Hampshire, where you can go from obscurity to prominence overnight with a good showing in New Hampshire."
Johnson, who has climbed Mount Everest and is an avid skier and bicyclist, planned to follow up his announcement with some spring skiing Saturday in New Hampshire's Tuckerman Ravine, a large glacial cirque on 6,288-foot Mount Washington, the tallest mountain in the Northeast.
Before serving as governor from 1995 to 2002, Johnson started a one-person fix-it business that grew to become one of the largest construction companies in New Mexico, with 1,000 employees. He said he can fix what he called America's bankrupt status by asking two simple questions: What are we spending our money on? And what are we getting in return?
"Everything should be a cost-benefit analysis," he said. "My entire life, I've watched government spend more money than it takes in, and I've just always thought there would be a day of reckoning with regard to that spending. I think that day of reckoning is here. It's right now, and it needs to be fixed."
Johnson mentioned President Obama just once, saying he supports repealing Obama's health care overhaul legislation. But he also criticized Republicans, saying they also are to blame for out-of-control spending.
"I think Republicans would gain a lot of credibility in this argument if Republicans would offer a repeal of the prescription health care benefit they passed when they controlled both houses of Congress and ran up record deficits," he said.