Libertarian lays out agenda, blows kiss to Trump
Wearing a pair of black Nike running shoes — “symbolic of getting away from the imperial presidency” — Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson on Tuesday pitched a “socially liberally, fiscally conservative” brand of politics while throwing some sharp elbows at Donald Trump.
In an interview on CNN’s “New Day,” Johnson laid out his political agenda for the “tens of millions of Americans who have no idea what it is to be a Libertarian.”
“How about the best of both worlds? The notion of being fiscally conservative and socially liberal — the notion that smaller government is something that really is desirable, that government taxes too much…look, [I] always come down on the side of people being able to make their own choices in their own lives, as long as those choices don’t adversely affect others,” Johnson said.
The former New Mexico governor, who was nominated this weekend and will have former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld as his running mate, also responded to doubts host CNN’s Chris Cuomo raised about the appeal of so-called Rockefeller Republicans in an increasingly polarized political environment.
“I would argue that most Republicans, even though they might be socially conservative, don’t want to make that public policy. Because at the end of the day if you make social conservatism public policy, you end up putting people in jail for their choices,” Johnson replied, pointing to high levels of incarceration due to U.S. drug policy.
Johnson outlined his non-interventionist foreign policy thinking as well, arguing against military campaigns with “unintended consequences” that make the world “less safe.” He also voiced concern about the dozens of treaties “where we are obligated to defend [other countries’] borders, and none of those treaties have been authorized by Congress.”
And he was critical of what he described as a misguided effort against ISIS.
“I would go into this with the intention of getting our troops out of the Middle East. I would go into this with the intention of not flying drones and killing thousands of innocent people. That’s the way I would go into this, and if there’s an argument on the other side, let’s hear it. Let’s get it out in the open,” he said.
Johnson also indicated his willingness to go after Trump with vigor, hitting him hard for his positions on immigration and rejecting Trump’s argument that many immigrants are criminals.
“Statistically — legal, illegal immigrants commit far less crime than U.S. citizens,” Johnson explained.
Johnson also said he supports a system “whereby it would be easy to get a work visa” allowing people crossing the border to be identified by Border Patrol instead of a situation where “mothers with children that are actually wading across the Rio Grande because of jobs.”
If Johnson’s long-shot bid does gain traction and he begins to threaten presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump’s candidacy, then Trump’s brief political history suggests that Johnson will quickly become the target of his signature onslaughts. But don’t tell Gary Johnson to worry.
“Are you ready for Trump?,” Cuomo asked Johnson.
“I think they’ve already started coming — so, Donald?” Johnson laughed, as he blew a kiss through the camera.
Asked about Johnson later Tuesday, Trump dismissed his candidacy.
“I think he’s a fringe candidate, to tell you the truth,” Trump said at a news conference at Trump Tower in New York.
Johnson quickly fired back on Twitter: “So @realDonaldTrump calls me a fringe candidate. Strangely enough, that’s what he was called a few months ago #tlot”