Editorial: This Debate, Johnson Gets A Place In The SunSeptember 22, 2011Posted in Blog, Gov. Gary Johnson
From The Santa Fe New Mexican
Another week, another Republican debate — and this time, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is being allowed in to play. Every debate offers a chance for one candidate to break out, and for Johnson, perhaps his only opportunity to be taken seriously. He’s been excluded from previous debates despite serving two terms here, and even the Republican Party of Florida doesn’t want him in this one. Because he squeaked past 1 percent in the national polls, the Fox News/Google team has let Johnson participate.
The debate comes at a fascinating moment in the presidential campaign. A recent McClatchy-Marist poll shows a majority of voters (36 percent to 49 percent) plans to oppose President Barack Obama next September, with the margin of independents at 53 percent to 28 percent against. However, not a one of the declared candidates is beating Obama in head-to-head races in that same poll. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney comes closest, losing a hypothetical race to the president by 2 points, but current Republican front-runner Texas Gov. Rick Perry loses by 9 points. Voters might want a change, but they don’t seem that crazy about their choices yet. The debates give voters a chance to weigh the candidates and start choosing one with that presidential something. After all, the field must narrow eventually. Just ask former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who dropped out after lackluster debates.
At any rate, Johnson deserves a place in the room at this point in the campaign. Whatever you think of the guy, he did win two terms as governor and has a coherent set of viewpoints to adds to our national debate. Want a businessman? Johnson built a company and met a payroll. Like small government? He never met a budget he couldn’t cut. Oppose foreign interventionism? Check. Believe in legalizing marijuana? There you go, a candidate who doesn’t parrot talking points or take safe positions. Johnson’s libertarian positions put him in U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s territory, with the distinction of experience running a state government rather than having served as just one of 435 in the House of Representatives.
With Johnson on board, nine candidates will be vying for the spotlight in Orlando tonight. Most of all, they want time in the after-spin zone. For Johnson, this could be do or die in his quixotic presidential race. He hasn’t been allowed to participate in a debate since May. Given the crowded stage, Johnson might be hard-pressed to squeeze a word in. Here’s wishing him well.
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