A crowd of nearly 100 amassed Wednesday afternoon to support Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson, who spoke during a campaign rally at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus.
Johnson, a former two term New Mexico governor, presents himself as a socially liberal and fiscally conservative candidate. Among his positions are legalizing gay marriage and marijuana, giving immigrants easy access to a workers permit, withdrawing overseas military troops, reducing federal spending by 43 percent and abolishing the IRS and the Federal Reserve by instituting the Fair Tax proposal.
Johnson, dressed in jeans, a tee-shirt with a peace symbol and a sport coat, looked more like a college professor than a typical presidential candidate. During his 20 minute speech, he drew many different distinctions between himself and his opponents, President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
He warned that neither President Obama’s nor Mitt Romney’s budgets could balance the country’s deficit; saying not doing so dooms the country.
“If we don’t balance the federal budget now we are going to find ourselves in the midst of a monetary collapse,” he says. “A monetary collapse, very simply, is when the dollars we have in our pocket don’t buy a thing because of the accompanying inflation that goes along with borrowing and printing money to the tune of 43 cents out of every dollar that we are spending.”
Nicknamed “Governor Veto,” Johnson drew distinctions between himself and fiscal policies of democrats and republicans by promoting his record of 750 vetoed legislative bills while in office. He says these actions saved New Mexico billions of dollars.
Johnson and his running mate, former Calif. judge Jim Grey, are currently touring 40 college campuses nationwide. Johnson says they’re targeting the youth because “young people are getting screwed.”
“I’m going to retire, I’m going to have healthcare, but you all will never be able to retire, you’re not going to have healthcare,” he says. “This is just not acceptable.”
He discussed the economic woes of the youth resulting from student loans, the Affordable Healthcare Act and a poor job market.
“Right now young people are graduating college with a home mortgage, but without a home,” he says.
Distinguishing himself in the Iranian conflict, Johnson gestured back towards President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, and said Iran is not a military threat, but should they become one military force needs to have congressional approval.
“If we bomb Iran we’re going to find ourselves with another 100 million enemies to this country that we otherwise wouldn’t have,” Johnson says to the cheering crowd.
Johnson also attacked President Obama over inconsistent promises regarding the drug war, and marijuana prosecutions.
Citing a proposed Colo. bill that would legalize and regulate marijuana similar to alcohol, he says “I think it’s going to pass, and be the first of 50 state dominos that will fall in line and bring rational drug policy to this country.”
Michael Silvia was one of dozens who attended the rally brandishing pro-Johnson signs.
“I definitely can’t support the two party system we currently have,” Silvia says. “They’re broken and don’t provide any solutions, only argue about semantics and superficial issues.”
Silvia says he was drawn to Johnson’s approach to finding solutions, and his pursuit of personal liberties.
Johnson is currently on 47 state ballots and the District of Columbia for the Nov. 6, election, and says he anticipates being on all 50.
Last week Johnson filed suit against the Presidential Debates Commission in order to be included in the October debates, citing the current restrictions as unfair against national progress.
According to a Reason-Rupe report, Johnson is currently polling at six percent nationally.