Gary Johnson talks about his Libertarian presidential bid from The Statehouse File on Vimeo.
By Samm Quinn
The Statehouse File
FRANKLIN – Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson – a candidate for president – said his decision to leave the Republican Party and become a Libertarian has helped him embrace the best of both Democrat and GOP philosophies.
Johnson, who came to Indiana to campaign, said he believes Libertarian beliefs typify the average American citizen, who would describe themselves as fiscally conservative and socially liberal.
“A libertarian candidate is going to be the only candidate that is going to talk about gay rights and gun rights in the same sentence,” he said. “A libertarian candidate is the only candidate that’s going to be talking about slashing welfare spending and slashing warfare spending in the same sentence.”
Johnson is a former frustrated Republican candidate for president. He was part of the initial batch of Republicans seeking the party’s nomination but he was invited to only two debates and could never gain momentum.
“I just think by any objective look at that, that that was not fair,” he said.
But as one of a handful of candidates seeking the Libertarian nomination, Johnson has been able to travel to spread his message. On Saturday, he’ll take it to the Indiana Libertarian Convention at the Holiday Inn Caribbean Cove Hotel & Water Park in Indianapolis.
Johnson will participate in a presidential debate with fellow candidates R. Lee Wrights, Bill Still, and Jim Burns. The convention will also include a straw poll.
Also Saturday, Johnson will participate in a Libertarian debate in Kansas City.
On Friday, Johnson said the United States’ biggest problem is the economy. He promises if elected to present a balanced federal budget to Congress by 2013.
Johnson said he believes the United States is heading towards a monetary collapse, which would leave the dollar valued at nothing.
“Nothing is free and that’s what we’ve been doing,” he said. “We’ve been making it free.”
Johnson said he’d like to throw out the entire tax system and replace it with the fair tax, which will eliminate the corporate tax, income tax and tax holdings and replace them with a national consumption tax.
“It ends up being cost neutral over a very short amount of time,” he said. “It’s really the answer when it comes to our exports, making them 23 percent more competitive and it’s really the answer when it comes to jobs.”
Johnson said he supports the legalization of marijuana by regulating it, controlling it and taxing it.
“Let’s just regulate it like wine,” he said. “Marijuana was something I did.”
But, he said after realizing that using marijuana was a “handicap” he stopped.
“You can call it a handicap, you call it all sorts of things, but I would never describe it as criminal,” he said.
Johnson served as New Mexico’s governor from 1995-2003. He also said he proud to be an athlete. Johnson climbed Mount Everest.
“I’ve had the good fortune to stand on top of the planet,” he said. “I think you want somebody in this job that can hunker down and do what it takes to keep going.”
Although he’s only recently identified himself as a Libertarian candidate, Johnson said he served essentially as a Libertarian governor – just under the guise of a Republican candidate.
“I don’t think anything in my past would suggest that I haven’t been anything but a very Libertarian principled individual,” he said. “I appreciate the inclusiveness of the Libertarian Party.”
Samm Quinn is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.