Sam Wood is a staff writer and The Inquirer's social media editor
Gary Johnson, is running for president this year as a Libertarian. Johnson, 58, who was the Republican governor of New Mexico from 1995 until 2003, is aiming to be on the ballot in all 50 states and is the first Libertarian to receive federal matching funds.
We spoke with Johnson as he was campaigning in Florida during the GOP convention.
Question: Why are you running for president?
Answer: I think the country is in deep trouble, and I'm offering up a voice that is not being heard right now.
I don't want to bomb Iran, I don't want us to stay in Afghanistan. I want to bring the troops home.
I do believe that marriage equality is a constitutionally guaranteed right. I'd like to end the drug war and legalize marijuana now.
I would repeal the Patriot Act. I would not have signed the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows you or I, as U.S. citizens, to be arrested and detained without being charged. That's why we fought wars.
I'm the only one promising a balanced budget. If we don't balance the budget now, we'll find ourselves in a monetary collapse. That means addressing entitlements.
I am the only candidate that would abolish the IRS and income tax, and replace that with one federal consumption tax. I am advocating the fair tax, one federal consumption tax; you can read about it at fairtax.org. I believe it has 90 congressmen and women who have already signed on.
The fair tax serves up the answers to what ails the economy. We do live in an environment of crony capitalism, and the main reason we do is that loopholes are for sale and both parties have their hands out through those loopholes. By abolishing the IRS and eliminating personal and corporate income taxes, you issue pink slips to Washington lobbyists because they're there to game the tax code.
I am the only candidate that would abolish the Federal Reserve.
Q: Do you still consider yourself a member of the GOP? Have you been a Libertarian all along?
A: I've always considered myself a Libertarian. While I was running for governor of New Mexico, the Republicans were totally inclusive of me, the party was open-armed, but they never thought I'd win.
I delivered in a really big way, I exceeded their expectations, and think I'm still highly regarded by the GOP in New Mexico. But that was not the environment I saw running for president as a Republican.
Q: What happened?
A: I was able to participate in two debates before they hung me out to dry.
If I may give you an example, about halfway through the spring debates, they stopped issuing criteria on who could participate in the debates.
CNBC had previously issued two criteria to be included in the debates: A candidate had to be at 4 percent in any national poll and be registered to run for president. I was registered and had 4 percent. But the invitations stopped coming. CNBC would not return our calls to answer why we could not get a seat at the table.
We requested of the RNC (Republican National Committee) that they step in and demand they give us a seat at the table; otherwise, the Republican Party is being dictated to by the media. The party would have nothing to do with helping me out. That was the Republican Party leaving me, not me leaving the Republican Party.