“Well that would just be real substance. Do you want to balance the budget? Ok, over what period of time? I would advocate balancing the budget immediately. What would you do when it comes to jobs? I would throw out the entire federal tax system and replace it with the fair tax.”
– Former Governor Gary Johnson on what will be missing from tonight’s debate
An edited transcript of our discussion with Republican presidential candidate and former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson is below:
Chip Lebovitz: The guidelines for Wednesday night’s debate are that a candidate must have polled at four percent in a national poll since November 2010. Are those fair? Especially given the fact that you actually received more support than Jon Huntsman in a recent CNN poll.
Gary Johnson: I am getting excluded. I am the guy on the bubble every time they come up with their assessment on what these debates should be about. That is what it is. I’m working hard in New Hampshire. The focus for me is to do well in New Hampshire, hoping that a good showing there would give me an earpiece in other states.
Chip Lebovitz: Do you think you’ll have a better chance at making it into the Spetmeber 22nd debate?
Gary Johnson: I have no reason to believe that I’ll be included. I have no reason to believe. The things that I can control are how many people I get to talk to and meet-and-greet in New Hampshire. In essence, I’m running for President of the United States in New Hampshire.
Chip Lebovitz: Onto the debate itself, what should the candidates be discussing that you think might not be brought up?
Gary Johnson: Well that would just be real substance. Do you want to balance the budget? Ok, over what period of time? I would advocate balancing the budget immediately. What would you do when it comes to jobs? I would throw out the entire federal tax system and replace it with the fair tax.
Chip Lebovitz: One question that is almost guaranteed to be asked is how the candidates plan to reduce our deficit. You along with a majority of the candidates have signed the Cut, Cap, and Balance plan. Given this preponderance of support of the CCB, how do you set your deficit reduction plan apart from the rest of the field?
Gary Johnson: That pledge relative to my (overall deficit reduction) proposal doesn’t go near far enough. The pledge doesn’t really do anything besides moving forward in a positive way. I’m promising to submit a balanced budget to Congress in the year 2013, and I’m promising to veto legislation, in which expenses exceed revenues.
Chip Lebovitz: Something that sets your campaign apart from the rest of the field is your focus on civil liberties, specifically in regards to the legalization of marijuana. In a time when solving our jobs and deficit problem is the nation’s number one priority, what role does civil liberties play in the national discussion, and why hasn’t it been as big an issue during the primary?
Gary Johnson: Well I do hope that (civil liberties) do get a bit of focus. Civil liberties would of course have to deal with the notion of legalizing marijuana. I would have never established the Department of Homeland Security, and would do everything I can to abolish the TSA in favor of airlines taking over security.
Chip Lebovitz: I think one of the more remarkable things about your candidacy is that you’ve climbed multiple mountains: the highest peaks on four mountains. What does that endurance bring to your campaign?
Gary Johnson: What it says is the whole notion about goal setting and being able to hunker down; to do whatever it takes. I think that speaks volumes to who I am as a person. I feel fortunate to be able to say that having (reached the summit).
Chip Lebovitz: Both you and Ron Paul are the two libertarian candidates in the race, and people sometimes conflate your respective candidacies. What sets you apart from Representative Paul?
Gary Johnson: I don’t want to misspeak. I’d like to think that the differences aren’t too great at all, but perhaps it’s just the social issues. I’m not a social conservative.
We’d like to thank Governor Johnson for talking to us.