“We’re on the ballot in all 50 states,” he noted. “This is for real.”

 

Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico turned Libertarian Party nominee for president, has no qualms about possibly costing either of the major parties the White House this fall.

“I will lose no sleep if that is the label given to me,” Johnson assured those gathered at the National Press Club on Thursday when asked about potentially inheriting the “spoiler” mantle from previous third-party challengers Ross Perot and Ralph Nader.

[ Don’t Count Out Third-Party Candidates ]

If anything, Johnson sees the polarizing 2016 campaign as the perfect opportunity to disrupt the status quo.

“I just think that people are hungry to vote for someone rather than the lesser of two evils,” he said, adding, “This is a party that needs crashing.”

[ GOP Delegate Would Rather Be Arrested Than Vote for Trump ]

Johnson’s running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, also addressed the dozens of supporters and press gathered to hear how the pair’s bid for the Oval Office was progressing.

Although just a few miles from the Capitol, the mood at the Johnson-Weld luncheon — optimistic as it was — felt miles away from the rancor and cynicism on full display in a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing focused on the administrative shortcomings of likely Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

[ House Republicans Want FBI Documents in Clinton Email Probe ]

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Rather than shying away from their respective standard-bearers, as some Republicans did Thursday by coyly meeting with or outright avoiding the presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, those on hand at the press club luncheon were excited about getting up close and personal with the guest speakers.

[ Senate Republicans Leave Trump Meeting With Little to Say ]

“Do you think I could take a picture with them?” one suit-clad admirer asked club staff, his smartphone already in hand.

Johnson, who collected over a million votes during his 2012 presidential run, firmly believes the Libertarian Party is gaining traction.

“We’re on the ballot in all 50 states,” he noted. “This is for real.”

Johnson attempted to brush aside any notions that he or Weld would be satisfied with merely gaining entry into the upcoming presidential debates — a milestone predicated upon their earning 15 percent support in national polls.

“We would not be doing this is there were not the opportunity to actually win,” Johnson said of his career ambitions.

Rather than ambush individuals — “No insults. No threats. No bluffs,” is how Johnson characterized their presidential platform — the duo indicted the current political system in general.

Libertarian vice presidential nominee Gov. William Weld answered questions about his latest campaign during an appearance at the National Press Club. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Libertarian vice presidential nominee Gov. William Weld answered questions about his latest campaign during an appearance at the National Press Club. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Weld, also a onetime Republican like Johnson, accused establishment politicians of being interested in the same thing: maintaining their duopoly.

Johnson slammed those on both sides of the aisle for betraying the public trust. “They’re all about spending and nothing about results,” he argued.

If elected, Johnson promised to take the fight directly to Congress, mapping out plans to hold the GOP’s feet to the fire on federal budgeting and expanded government while challenging Democrats on civil liberties and entitlements.

“This is a huge opportunity. Don’t you see it?” Johnson posed to the crowd.

Contact Rojas at warrenrojas@rollcall.com and follow him on Twitter at @WARojas.

– See more at: http://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/libertarian-ticket-fine-playing-spoiler-envisions#sthash.jA2oSOR6.dpuf

Libertarian Johnson: Drug war ‘root cause’ of police shootings

Poor relations between police and African-Americans stems from the criminalization of drug use, Gary Johnson said.

By Burgess Everett

07/08/16 11:55 AM EDT

Gary Johnson believes the tensions between police and minorities that led to two high-profile police shootings and the deaths of five Dallas police officers has a root cause: The long-running war on drugs.

The libertarian nominee for president did not directly tie the drug war to the shooting deaths in Minnesota and Louisiana by police or the sniper killings of five officers in Texas this week. But poor relations between police and African-Americans stems from the criminalization of drug use, he said.

“The root is the war on drugs, I believe. Police knocking down doors, shooting first,” Johnson said in an interview Friday in Washington. “If you are (black and) arrested in a drug-related crime, there is four times more likelihood of going to prison than if you are white. And shooting is part of the same phenomenon.”

“That’s the common thread. Shootings are occurring with black people, black people are dying,” he added. “This is an escalation.”

The former Republican governor of New Mexico is pitching a complete rewrite of the nation’s drug policy as part of his underdog run for the presidency alongside his running mate, former Massachusetts GOP Gov. Bill Weld. Johnson wants to legalize marijuana and find other ways to deal with harder drugs than long periods of incarceration.

He said that will soon happen, predicting that California will vote this fall to legalize marijuana and President Barack Obama will remove cannabis from its listing as a Class 1 drug. “I think Obama’s going to do that going out the door,” Johnson said.

“The focus on drugs needs to be as a health issue, not a criminal justice issue. It can be illegal but does it need to be criminal? Do you need to go to jail for drugs?” Johnson said. “I do believe that the root of the militarization, knocking on doors, is a drug war phenomenon.”

The laid-back libertarian, dressed in jeans and an open-collared button-down in a hotel dining room, declined to join Republicans in criticizing Obama for pointing to “powerful weapons” this week as a cause of violence between police officers and minorities. But Johnson said the focus on assault rifles is misguided.

“That is a category of rifle that contains 30 million rifles. If you ban those rifles tomorrow and said hand ‘em in,” only half of the weapons would actually be turned over, Johnson said. “And we’re going to have a whole new criminal class of people.”

Johnson said that as president he’d be open to proposals designed to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists and the mentally ill. But he said he’d seen no such workable proposals in Congress, despite unsuccessful attempts by both Democrats and Republicans.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/gary-johnson-dallas-shooting-225294#ixzz4Dqx744G2
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Could marijuana politics become a ‘front burner’ issue in Campaign 2012?

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Libertarian presidential hopeful Gary Johnson is seeking funds from America’s 50 million admitted cannabis users to help raise his profile in the 2012 campaign.

 

April 12, 2012

Gary Johnson, the likely Libertarian presidential nominee who served two terms as the Republican governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, has thrown down the gauntlet to President Obama on federal medical marijuana policy.

In an April 10 blog entry on his web site, Johnson asks readers to help him debate the War on Drugs with Obama and Mitt Romney – and he accuses Barack Obama of lying to voters about his medical marijuana position when he sought the presidency in 2008.

Johnson points out that in Obama’s quest for the White House, he clearly stated he would not squander time and money on prosecuting medical marijuana providers in states that have already legalized cannabis as medicine. “I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users,” Obama said four years ago. “It’s not a good use of our resources.”

Yet the Obama administration has continued expending federal resources doing just that, with most of the focus on prosecuting medical marijuana providers.

Johnson says he intends to put discussion about the legalization of marijuana on the “front burner” in the 2012 campaign.

His challenge to the president and likely Republican nominee comes just days after DEA and IRS agents raided Oaksterdam University in Oakland, seizing files and briefly detaining founder Richard Lee, a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic who uses cannabis to treat spastic muscles. Lee is concerned he may face federal drug charges.

Support for medical marijuana at 74 percent

The heavy-handed tactics by the federal government come at a time when half the country favors legalizing marijuana, and not just for medical use. In an October 2011 poll by Gallup, a record-high 50 percent of Americans favored the legalization of marijuana, and a Harris Interactive Poll in March of 2011 found 74 percent support for legalizing medical marijuana.

Johnson points out that not only has Obama failed to keep his promise on medical marijuana, he has failed to respond to citizens who took action on the issue: “President Obama also REJECTED a citizens’ petition to legalize marijuana as well as a citizens’ petition asking that marijuana be reclassified from a Schedule I drug, which is reserved for dangerous drugs, like heroin, with no medical value, to a Schedule II substance,” Johnson wrote.

Johnson is in the midst of a fundraising drive to help him raise his national profile. While Johnson polls quite well in a three-way race against Obama and Romney in New Mexico, where voters know him, he is less of a known quantity at the national level and is currently polling just 7 percent against the incumbent and the likely Republican nominee. He hopes to raise funds to change that by reaching out to those who support legalizing marijuana.

Why did Obama lie about medical marijuana?

“I can’t wait to ask Obama why he lied to us about medical marijuana in 2008 and why his Justice department is arresting and prosecuting people involved in the legal supplying of medical marijuana in states that allow it,” Johnson wrote. “I want to debate whether it makes sense to legalize marijuana and I’m ready to take on Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on this issue, but I need your help.”

Johnson has acknowledged using medical cannabis while recovering from a paragliding accident in 2005.

Donate to Johnson’s campaign

The campaign has set up a special donation site, http://www.garyjohnson2012.com/marijuana, to help solicit at least $1 from each of the 50 million admitted marijuana smoker in the United States. To mail a check or money order, send your contribution to:

Gary Johnson 2012

P.O. Box 1985

Salt Lake City, UT 84110

On the donation page, Johnson states his position succinctly: “This debate isn’t just about pot. It’s about common sense. It’s better to deal with drugs in the daylight as a health issue instead of leaving it in the dark where it breeds more crime and violence. Imagine a pot-friendly, fiscally savvy, open-minded President in the White House. If we all pitch in a little, it can happen.”

The Libertarian Party will hold its convention in Las Vegas the first weekend of May, with Johnson expected to win a first-ballot nomination. The threshold for appearing in presidential debates is 15 percent, and Johnson hopes to raise his profile so as to achieve that number and appear in the fall presidential debates against Obama and Romney. According to veteran Republican strategist Roger Stone, if Johnson can appear before a national television debate audience alongside Obama and Romney, “all bets are off” on the 2012 outcome.

In addition to his pro-legalization policies, Johnson has promised to submit a balanced budget to Congress in first year as president. He also supports gay marriage, Second Amendment rights and repeal of the Patriot Act.

If you like writing about U.S. politics and the 2012 campaign, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.

SOURCES & RESOURCES:

Help me debate the war on drugs with Obama and Romney, www.garyjohnson2012.com

Can climbing Mt. Everest help prepare you for a presidential campaign? www.bearingdrift.com

Medical Marijuana dispensaries stay open despite federal deadline, SF Weekly, April 9, 2012

Agents in Oakland raid leader of medical marijuana movement, L.A. Times, April 2, 2012

Gary Johnson 2012: Letter from California, by Roger Stone at huffingtonpost.com

Researchers study neuroprotective properties of cannabis, www.foxnews.com, March 20, 2012

Additional sources linked ot in text.

Punditty is based in Berkeley, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.