Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson has apologized after he accepted a gift Sunday from rival Austin Petersen — a replica of George Washington’s flintlock pistol — before tossing it in the garbage.
Mr. Petersen tearfully presented Mr. Johnson with the pistol as a symbol of party unity during the Libertarian Party convention in Orlando, Florida, Fox News reported.
“You have my sword, and you have my gun,” he said, as the nominee accepted the gift.
Fox News reported that Mr. Johnson then “unceremoniously chucked it in the garbage can.”
News of the incident started as a rumor on social media before both Mr. Johnson and Mr. Petersen confirmed it to Fox News Wednesday.
“It’s a very prized possession of mine,” Mr. Petersen lamented. “You don’t expect to get slighted like that.”
Joe Hunter, communications director for the Johnson campaign, said the former New Mexico governor was “frustrated.”
“That’s why he tossed the gun,” Mr. Hunter told Fox News. “He wishes he hadn’t. He’s sorry he did it and that it has become an issue.”
He said Mr. Johnson was angry that almost immediately after giving him the pistol, Mr. Petersen started slamming Mr. Johnson’s running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld.
“That was very frustrating to Governor Johnson,” Mr. Hunter said. “And what he did with the gun was pure frustration.”
Mr. Petersen described the significance of the replica in a video shot right before he presented the gift to the party’s new nominee.
“This means I’m going to go to battle for him,” Mr. Petersen said in the video. “So, if Governor Johnson needs anything from me, if he needs any help, if he wants me to go out there and do battle for him, I’ll do it. … The revolution continues.”
Onlookers retrieved the pistol from the trash and returned it to Mr. Peterson, who said he’s willing to move on, Fox News reported.
“It’s important when you are defeated that you are humble, gracious and kind,” Mr. Peterson said. “So I have endorsed [Johnson]. I want him to do well and the party to grow.”