Society

Libertarian Party Pitches Itself As Valid Third Option

| by Kathryn Schroeder
Independent Nominee Gary JohnsonIndependent Nominee Gary Johnson

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson and his running mate William Weld want Americans to view their party as a legitimate third option in the race for the White House.

In an Aug. 3 CNN town hall meeting, Johnson and Weld said that if Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump are elected president, the country will become more polarized.

Johnson finds his role in the election is to call out both sides, and he and Weld both did so with their comments during the town hall meeting.

"He's a showman. He's a pied piper. He's the music man," Weld said of Trump. "More recently, it's gotten more serious, and the noun that comes to my mind is a 'screw loose.'"

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Weld believes Trump should consider another line of work -- anything other than president. Johnson added that Trump’s proposals on immigration and counterterrorism are immoral.

“I don’t think America has ever been better,” he said.

Johnson referred to Clinton as being beholden.

“It’s just not coincidence, I don’t think, that [former President] Bill Clinton and Hillary both are making huge amounts of money with these speaking fees,” he said.

Johnson added that he thinks there were conflicts of interest between the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s work at the State Department, remarking that her work as secretary of state “smacks of pay-to-play.”

He would not say whether he thinks Clinton is untrustworthy, but when asked why many others do, he said, “I totally get it.”

"Was there anything that she didn't promise to anyone in her acceptance speech?" Johnson asked.

Johnson and Weld also spent time discussing their own policies.

In regards to the LGBT community, Johnson said that he does think they are being discriminated against.

“I fear that under the guise of religious liberty, the LGBT community is being discriminated against,” he said. “I don’t want to support discrimination in any form whatsoever.”

Johnson also believes racial discrimination needs to be addressed.

“My head’s been in the sand on this,” he said after being asked about the Black Lives Matter movement. “I think we’ve all had our heads in the sand, and let’s wake up. This discrimination does exist.”

Weld added that black unemployment is a national emergency.

As for marijuana, Johnson, who is a former CEO of a legal cannabis company and has admitted to trying edible products in the recent past, wants to change its classification.

"What we need to do is de-schedule marijuana as a Class 1 narcotic,” he said. “There needs to be research and development on marijuana, and in no way are we supporting kids being able to use marijuana.”

In a less common policy question posed to candidates, Johnson was asked his stance on legalizing prostitution. He said that the matter should be decided state by state.

Johnson wants to raise his profile enough so he will be invited to participate in the presidential debates with Clinton and Trump. To do so, he has to reach an average of at least 15 percent support in national polls.

He is currently polling with an average of 7.4 percent, according to Real Clear Politics.

Frank Fahrenkopf, the co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, told CNBC an exception may be made to the rule if a third-party candidate is close to the required percentage.

“If someone came in and let’s say he was [polling] at 14.5 percent and the margin of error in five polls was 3 points, we are going to have to sit down and look at it,” he said. “But right now that person would not be included.”

Sources: CNN, Real Clear Politics, CNBC / Photo credit: Flickr

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