| News |

Libertarian Presidential Hopeful Gary Johnson Has Versailles Misunderstanding, Then Cafecito

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

According to FIU NewsGary Johnson's town-hall discussion at Florida International University's Wertheim Performing Arts Center this past Wednesday was a success, with a packed house of about 600 showing up to hear the Libertarian presidential candidate speak about everything from the legalization of marijuana to replacing income tax and the IRS with a national consumption tax. 

His Miami adventure took a turn for the worse when Johnson tried to hold a news conference at Calle Ocho's Versailles the following day.  The restaurant has long been a traditional stop for political hopefuls to schmooze and get a photo op while in the Magic City.

According to the Miami Herald, Johnson was scheduled to hold a small news conference Wednesday afternoon but changed the date to Thursday. Unfortunately, the general manager didn't get the message and wasn't there to inform staff.

When Johnson arrived, he sat in the main dining room instead of the private room afforded visiting politicians, reporters, and camerapeople in tow. When he began to do a radio interview, the media was asked to leave, and Johnson followed suit. Once outside, the presidential hopeful continued speaking with reporters and was handed a cafecito by a supporter. 

According to a representative for Versailles, the campaign coordinated with Nicole Valls, vice president of operations for Valls Group, for a Wednesday appearance at 3:45 p.m. However, Johnson's FIU town hall began at 5 p.m., and there was no way the politician could have made it to his appearance on time. The Versailles stop was then changed to Thursday at 9:15 a.m., but "no one called Nicole [Valls] personally to tell her about the time change." 

Additionally, the general manager in charge of meeting Johnson Thursday was off that day, and the manager on duty the next morning was new.

In an email, Versailles' spokesperson emphatically stated Mr. Johnson was not asked to leave, nor was he denied service:

"Unfortunately, he didn’t contact the main office to confirm the visit but he also never kicked Mr Johnson out or asked him to leave. All that happened was that the media and all of their cameras were asked to stay outside, which is typical protocol for anyone trying to film inside the restaurant without prior approval. Mr. Johnson was very gracious despite the miscommunication and went outside with media and continued with his cafecito, which he was never denied as the MH [Miami Herald] headline suggests."

Nicole Valls says she hopes the candidate has no hard feelings, and invites him to return to Versailles the next time he's in Miami. “At Versailles, we are very proud of our legacy as the go-to place for officials, dignitaries, and candidates and for people who want to discuss politics and current events. It is unfortunate that we were not able to receive Mr. Johnson in the typical Versailles fashion that we are widely known for, but he and his campaign are definitely always welcome at our establishment, and we hope that he will take the opportunity to come back on his next visit to our wonderful city.”

Johnson might actually get the chance to campaign in Miami again. According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll of swing states, the Libertarian candidate, though still far behind Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, is closer than ever to getting the crucial 15 percent of likely voters to allow him a spot at the upcoming debates. 

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.