Libertarians pick Johnson for president

2016-05-30 16:26
(John Raoux, AP)

(John Raoux, AP)

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Fort Lauderdale - The Libertarian Party again nominated former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson as its presidential candidate, believing he can challenge presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton because of their poor showing in popularity polls.

Johnson, 63, won the nomination on the second ballot at the party's convention in Orlando, Florida, defeating Austin Petersen, the founder of The Libertarian Republic magazine and anti-computer virus company founder John McAfee. The delegates selected former Massachusetts Governor William Weld to be his vice presidential running mate.

Drug legalisation

Johnson, the party's nominee in 2012, told the delegates during his acceptance speech that his job will be to get the Libertarian platform before the voters at a level the party has not seen.

"I am fiscally conservative in spades and I am socially liberal in spades," said Johnson. 

"I would cut back on military interventions that have the unintended consequence of making us less safe in the world."

On fiscal matters, Libertarians push for reduced spending and taxes, saying the federal government has gotten too big across the board. Johnson proposes eliminating federal income and corporate taxes and replacing those with a national sales tax.

He would reduce domestic spending by eliminating the Internal Revenue Service, the Commerce and Education departments, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

On social issues, Libertarians generally support abortion rights, gun rights, same-sex marriage and drug legalisation, saying people should be allowed to do anything that doesn't hurt others.

Johnson served as New Mexico's governor from 1995 to 2003 as a Republican after a career as the owner of one of that state's largest construction companies.

After failing to gain traction in the GOP's 2012 primaries, he changed his registration to Libertarian shortly before running for that party's nomination that year. He won the nomination and got just short of 1% of the general election vote against President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Hopes to raise millions

For Johnson to make a serious run this year, he needs to qualify for the presidential debates. To do that, he must average 15% in five recognised polls.

He hopes that is doable because Trump and Clinton are both seen unfavourably by a majority of voters, according to recent polls.

Johnson will also need to overcome a huge financial disadvantage and history.

In 2012, Obama and Romney spent over a billion dollars each, a figure Trump and Clinton, if she is the Democratic nominee, are expected to also reach. Johnson spent $2.5m in 2012, about one dollar for every 400 Obama and Romney each spent. Johnson hopes to raise "tens of millions of dollars" this time.


Read more on:    donald trump  |  bernie saunders  |  hillary clinton  |  barack obama  |  us  |  us 2016 elections

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