Closing on 15% polling threshold for invitation to debatesPublished: 18 hours ago
Gov. Gary Johnson
CLEVELAND – When former two-term New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson was the Libertarian Party presidential nominee in 2012, he was unable to garner even 1 percent of the vote.
This time, amid an anti-establishment wave that has divided both the Democratic and Republican parties, Johnson and his vice presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, are polling at 13 percent.
He and his running mate are no longer Republicans, but Johnson showed up Wednesday at the Republican National Convention, explaining to WND he hopes to draw some attention and build enough momentum to reach the 15 percent threshold and possibly an invitation to participate in presidential debates with Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
He told WND in an interview that he’s “not really here to throw stones” but to “really stake out what I think it a big six-lane highway in between Clinton and Trump.”
At the RNC this week, as WND reported, Republican leaders are seeking to unify a party divided by a contentious “never Trump” movement by arguing that sitting out the election or voting for anyone else is a de facto vote for Hillary.
But Johnson contends that while Libertarian candidates historically have barely registered a blip, he and Weld have a fighting chance.
“We would not be doing this if there weren’t the opportunity to actually win,” he said. “But the only opportunity to win is to poll at 15 percent, which I think is in the cards, and be in the presidential debates.
A four-candidate CNN/ORC survey conducted July 13-16 had Johnson at 13 percent, compared to Hillary Clinton’s 42 percent, Donald Trump’s 37 and Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s 5
“Being in the presidential debates, anything can happen,” Johnson said.
While each debate sets its own criteria for participation, 15 percent is regarded as a standard threshold.
He believes he and Weld are significantly out-polling previous Libertarian campaigns because of the competition.
“It starts with just how polarizing Clinton and Trump are,” he said. “But then beyond that – and it has to go beyond that – myself and Bill Weld, former Republican governors serving in heavily Democrat states, each of us getting reelected, being fiscally responsible and socially, really, agnostic: It doesn’t matter what you are socially, as long as you don’t force it on others.”
Johnson said another piece of “unstaked ground” in the presidential election is “the military interventions that have had the unintended consequence of making things worse, not better; less safe, not more safe.”
Opposed to deportation
He also distinguishes himself from Trump on immigration, free trade and counter-terrorism.
And he affirmed he favors making marijuana legal across the nation.
“Since 58 percent of Americans now support legalizing marijuana, I think I’m now on the side of what I most Americans want to see happen,” he said.
Johnson explained to WND why he opposes Trump’s plan to deport 11 million illegal aliens.
“I think that has a basis in just misinformation, that he wants to build a fence across the border, that they are murderers and rapists when statistically they are more law-abiding than U.S. citizens,” he said. “They are not taking jobs that U.S. citizens want, and I am speaking as a border governor. We should be embracing immigration.”
Is he opposed, then, to measures to stop illegal immigrants from entering the country?
“Well, what needs to get understood is why there is illegal immigration,” he replied. “And the reason there is illegal immigration is because jobs do exist in the United States that U.S. citizens don’t want, and you can’t get across the border.”
Johnson said it should, therefore, be made “as easy as possible for someone who wants to get a work visa to get a work visa and that is to get a background check and a social security card so that taxes get paid.”
“The woman who is crossing the border with her kids, and I mean wading across the Rio Grande — she’s doing that because jobs exist, and she can’t get across the border to take those jobs,” he said.
Johnson favors the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership, although he once opposed it, calling it “laden with crony capitalism.”
“We should be embracing free trade, not talking about a 35 percent tariff on imported goods,” he told WND.
In the wake of recent terrorist attacks, the Trump campaign has criticized President Obama’s refusal to name the threat radical Islam, but Johnson thinks the issue is “much ado about nothing.”
Johnson said he was happy that Obama finally has explained his philosophy for not naming the threat radical Islam.
“It’s something I think I understood well beforehand,” he said, “analogous to the streaker that runs on the football field, analogous to the person who runs out and disrupts the NBA game — cameras turn away from that person.”
He explained that “if you bring attention that this is the Muslim religion, arguably are you making things worse, not better.”
“That’s Obama’s argument. And I wish he would have just stated this years ago as opposed to just within the last few months,” Johnson said.
He acknowledged that the world is at war with ISIS.
“There’s no question about it, but it is very regionalized,” he said. “I mean, ISIS’ days are numbered. They’re not numbered if you’ve got lone wolves. I’ll call them lone wolves, because everybody is using that term these days. You know, they’re not isolated if you’ve got these crazy people who will commit these horrible acts. But they’re not directly linked to ISIS, and we need to recognize that.”
Unlike Obama, Johnson said he believes the Islamic State is Islamic.
“They are Islamic, but they are the extreme, and the more attention we give them, the more crazy people attach themselves to that ideology and commit acts that are absolutely atrocious,” he said.
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2016/07/major-3rd-party-candidate-crashes-gop-convention/#OeT48tbDxYGm77vZ.99