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Johnson Still Smarting Over Debate Exclusion

June 15, 2011Posted in Blog, Gov. Gary Johnson, Interview, New Hampshire

From the New Hampshire Union Leader by John DiStaso

Gary Johnson, the libertarian-leaning former two-term New Mexico governor who’s running for President, received more national and local attention by being excluded from the Monday night New Hampshire presidential primary debate than he would have received had he been on the stage with seven other Republican candidates jockeying for an opening to get in a few words here and there.

But Johnson takes no solace in that.

“I’d as just as soon been up there and gotten (attention) that way,” he said today. “I never, when I entered into this, expected that I would not have been at the debate table.”

Johnson, who formally announced his candidacy in April on the steps of the New Hampshire State House, served as governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, leaving office as a result of a term limit requirement and leaving the state, he says, with a $1.4 billion surplus.

Johnson, in an interview, said he is working at least as hard as every other candidate in the race, probably harder, and is picking up momentum.

Putting “my chips on the table in New Hampshire,” Johnson on Wednesday will open a New Hampshire campaign headquarters in office space at the corner of Chestnut and Pearl streets in Manchester.

He is probably most known for his controversial stands in favor of legalizing majijuana and advocating gay rights.

But he is also a staunch fiscal conservative who says his approach to the presidency would be to “do the job” rather than compromise principles for political expediency.

The author of 750 vetoes as governor, Johnson said he would take a similar approach as President, and if he is overridden, “so be it.”

Johnson refused to criticize the other, more well-known libertarian Republican in the presidential race: U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.

But Johnson pointed out that while Paul’s principles were illustrated through congressional votes, Johnson applied his libertarian, small-government approach in the more hands-on daily job of governing as New Mexico’s chief executive.

“To actually have governed, to actually hold an executive office,” he said. “Ron Paul votes ‘no’ and the legislation still passes.”

But Johnson said that when he said ‘no’ as governor and issued a veto, “the legislation stopped. And people found out that the delivery of goods and services are better not worse.”

Johnson said he realizes that to be successful in the first-in-the-nation primary he must do more than win Ron Paul voters.

He said the field is open. Even Mitt Romney, who has held large leads in New Hampshire polling, “is really not strong at all. Whatever the number is, it is based on name familiarity. That’s what the polling is showing right now.”

“I don’t expect you guys to know this,” Johnson told Union Leader editors and a reporter. “But I have momentum or I wouldn’t be sitting here.”

“And you have to exceed expectations. That’s an easy one because the expectation on my end is zero.”

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