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Libertarian Candidate Touts Fiscal Conservatism, Social Tolerance

April 17, 2012Posted in Blog, News

By Eric Lindquist Leader-Telegram

A leading Libertarian presidential candidate stopped in Eau Claire on Saturday to tout his message of fiscal conservatism and social tolerance.

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson said he believes a majority of Americans would classify themselves as both fiscally conservative — a trait historically associated with Republicans — and socially tolerant — a characteristic traditionally linked with Democrats — and that’s why he describes his views as the “best of both worlds.”

Still, Johnson acknowledged in an interview the uphill battle he faces in generating enough support to pose a serious challenge to Democratic President Barack Obama or Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. Johnson’s immediate mission is to reach the standard in all 50 states to qualify for federal matching funds for his campaign.

“The pie in the sky scenario is to potentially poll at 15 percent and then qualify to be on the national debate stage with them,” Johnson said before addressing the 2012 Libertarian Minnesota & Wisconsin Joint State Convention at the Ramada Convention Center.

Tim Krenz, an Osceola resident who is political director of the Libertarian Party in Wisconsin, said about 70 people were expected to attend Saturday’s convention in Eau Claire. While he is officially neutral about his presidential candidate preference, Krenz said he is confident Libertarians would unite behind Johnson if he earns the party’s nomination at its annual convention next month in Las Vegas.

The primary goal of his candidacy, Johnson said, is to spread the Libertarian message of less government and more individual freedoms, including support for gay marriage and legalizing marijuana.

Johnson’s fiscal philosophy is grounded in the belief that the United States is in bad financial shape and faces a monetary collapse if it doesn’t balance its budget.

“We’re in deep, deep trouble, and we need to fix it,” Johnson said. “And there’s nothing about Obama or Romney that suggests any of this will get fixed if they’re elected.”

Johnson, 59 a former construction company owner, is proud of the reputation he developed while leading New Mexico from 1995 to 2003 as the most fiscally conservative governor in the country and the “Gov. Veto” nickname he earned for issuing more than 750 vetoes during his time in office.

Vetoing bills is a good thing when it means stopping wasteful spending on laws that don’t really make a difference in people’s lives, said Johnson, who described himself as a Libertarian governor “under the guise of being a Republican.”

Johnson, an avid adventurer and bicyclist, has competed in several Ironman Triathlons and reached the highest peak on four of the seven continents, including Mount Everest. He still aims to conquer the other three.


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