Libertarian candidate Johnson speaks in Bowling GreenWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson spoke to a small, but impassioned group at Clazel Theatre in Bowling Green on Nov. 2.
Johnson, who served as a Republican governor of New Mexico from 1995-2003, addressed about 150 people, drumming up his experience leading the state and his third-party status.
“Right now, you all have to be hearing the following and that is you shouldn’t waste your vote … that’s absolutely right. Don’t waste your vote on somebody that you don’t believe in,” Johnson said.
He touted his experience and popularity as governor.
“This may be an embellishment … I’m waiting for someone to prove me wrong. I may have vetoed more legislation than the other 49 governors in the country combined. I vetoed 750 bills. I had thousands of line-item vetoes. I took line-item vetoes to a new art form,” he said, adding that only two of his vetoes were overturned so he saved taxpayers money.
Johnson said of his re-election in the mostly Democratic state of New Mexico, “I should have been ridden out on a rail, but I think it just speaks volumes to the fact that people really do appreciate good stewardship of taxes dollars.”
He added that polls show he is the only presidential candidate viewed favorably in his state.
“People actually wave at me with all five fingers, not just one,” Johnson said. He also said that a study had him as the best job creator — something he disagreed with in a way.
“I did not create one single job as governor of New Mexico. The private sector creates jobs, but I did create an environment of certainty, rules and regulation,” he said.
Johnson also emphasized how he would cut back on defense if elected.
“I’m the only candidate that does not want to bomb Iran,” he said.
“The largest demonstration in the world in support of the United States after 9/11 was in Iran where over a million citizens showed up in support of the United States, and we’re gonna bomb Iran?” Johnson said.
He also criticized the economic sanctions against Iran
“It’s a horrible place to be. Do the citizens of Iran blame their government for this? Absolutely not. They blame the United States, so we’re making more enemies,” Johnson said.
In addition to bringing the troops home from Afghanistan, Johnson said he would legalize marijuana.
“90 percent of the drug problem is prohibition-related, not use-related,” he said, adding that most of the people behind bars are there because of a drug-related offense.
Colorado is voting on whether to regulate marijuana like alcohol, he said.
“I think it’s going to pass. I think it’s going to be the first of 50 state dominoes that are going to bring about rational drug policy in this country,” Johnson said.
“What happens when Colorado does that and everybody in the whole country gets on an airplane to go to Denver for the weekend to chill out?” he added.
Johnson said he is also a proponent of the Fair Tax, which would eliminate income and corporate taxes, instead imposing a consumption tax.
A consumption tax would be the answer to the country’s trade issues with China and bring manufacturing jobs back, he said.
Johnson, who promised to balance the country’s budget, also called Medicare “unsustainable” because it’s a system where users put $30,000 in and get $100,000 out.
“We need to have a raging debate and discussion in this country on how we cut Medicare,” he said, advocating for giving states block grants to take care of those who are poor or older than 65.
Johnson criticized President Barack Obama for not taking a stronger stance on marriage equality.
“Taking a position that marriage equality is a state issue is effectively saying I’m not going to do anything about it because 42 states have recognized marriage as between a man and a woman. You’re not addressing the issue,” he said.
He also lampooned Gov. Mitt Romney for advocating building a fence on the border between Mexico and the United States.
After calling it the “stupidest thing you could possibly do,” Johnson said, “Let’s make it as easy as possible for someone who wants to come into this country and work to get a work visa.”
The work visa would require immigrants to get a background check and social security number and to pay taxes.
“Would immigrants stand in line if the line was moving to get a work visa? Yes, they would and we are a county of immigrants,” Johnson said. He added that if marijuana were legal, drug violence at the border would be dramatically scaled back.
Eventgoer Mark Noltemeyer, who works for a chemical company in Toledo, said he enjoyed hearing about Johnson’s views on fiscal responsibility and personal freedoms.
“We want to be left alone, a beautiful message,” he said. “The two-party system these days, it’s either this way or this way. Nobody has any common sense.”
His friend Aaron Albright said many people who vote Romney or Obama are “voting for the lesser of two evils, which that’s a waste of their vote in my opinion. And I’ve got friends in non-battleground states, who are voting for Johnson because their vote doesn’t matter because of the way our election system’s set up so they’re going to vote for a third party.”
Brooke Kirian, a teacher and undecided voter from Bowling Green, said she agreed with many of Johnson’s stances and that she also liked Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
“They’re candidates that actually stand for something and speak to a lot of people,” she said, adding that she is putting in a lot of research about where her vote should go.
“I’m voting for what I truly believe in and my morals, my ethics,” she said. “I hope that more people start putting in the necessary thought and research into such a big decision.”