Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson is the Libertarian Party's 2016 presidential candidate. He is running with William Weld. (Ron Hill Imagery)

What is a Libertarian?: Gary Johnson and his campaign for presidency

“We need to make America sane again,” says Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson’s website.

Johnson and his running mate William Weld were once Republicans voted into governor positions in largely Democratic states. They were then reelected for second terms. Often called to explain exactly what a Libertarian is, Johnson points to stances he and Weld have taken in their previous campaigns as governors.

“We were fiscally conservative,” he said in an interview on Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show. “We were socially liberal: the notion that people should be able to make their own choices in their own lives.”

Gary Johnson and William Weld consider their campaign stances to be somewhere between Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s.

“I cut the growth of government in half, and reduced the number of state employees by more than 1,000, without any mass firings or layoffs,” Johnson said about his time as governor of New Mexico in an editorial for CNN. “We cut taxes. We shifted Medicaid to a managed care system and cut costs. I scrutinized regulations to be sure they were truly needed and not unnecessarily burdensome for individuals and businesses.”

Johnson has said that he is a believer in small government, women’s reproductive rights, marriage equality, and legalizing marijuana. He was also formerly the CEO of marijuana company Cannabis Sativa Inc. and believes that medicinal marijuana is a safer alternative to prescription medications, saying the latter kills 100,000 people a year.

His campaign slogan, “Live Free” echoes his conviction that a bigger government leads to citizens having less money and therefore less freedom.

“As the Governor of New Mexico, I vetoed wasteful spending 750 times, cut taxes 14 times, and left the state with new highways, bridges, schools, hospitals, and a billion dollar surplus without raising taxes a penny,” Johnson said in a recent ad for his campaign.

Weld claims a similar track record.

“As governor of Massachusetts, I cut taxes 21 times, and took unemployment from the highest rate among the 11 industrialized states to the lowest,” Weld said in the ad.

Johnson says he believes in “intelligent immigration reform.” The former governor of a border state, Johnson does not believe that immigrants are stealing American jobs, but believes they need to be given a way to legally enter the U.S. with a work visa that requires a background check. He believes government should allow the free market to decide how many immigrants come to America looking for work. He said that now, Mexicans are crossing the border into their home country once more because there are more jobs there.

“And from a military intervention standpoint, I think the fact that we put troops on the ground, I think the fact that we drop bombs, I think the fact that we fly drones and kill thousands of innocent people, at the end of the day has a consequence that’s worse, not better—the unintended consequence of making the world less safe,” Johnson said on The Late Show.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll showed that 47 percent of Americans would consider voting for a third party nominee for president. But as Johnson pointed out on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the show’s host opened by talking about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as if they were the only two candidates running for president.

“I believe America might be ready for something—and somebody—different,” Johnson wrote in his opinion piece for CNN.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton hold most of the votes in various polls, and Johnson says that his path to the White House starts there.

“How do we win?” Johnson said in an interview with Fox News. “It’s being in the polls. Investors’ Business Daily this afternoon came out with a poll at 11 percent which really is very heartening. The only chance we have of winning is to be in the presidential debate, which is 15 percent prescribed by the Presidential Debate Commission. The only way to get to 15 percent is to actually be included in all of these polls.”

If Johnson can poll at 15 percent nationally, he will be included in the presidential debates with Clinton and Trump. This would give the Johnson/Weld campaign more exposure, which could cause them to chip away at the polls of the Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls.

Colbert pointed out that Trump has called the Libertarian duo “fringe candidates.” Johnson accepted the label.

“I think that by ‘fringe’ he is saying that the majority of Americans are fringe, and that’s just not the case,” Johnson said.

Photo taken from It was taken on October 20th, at Ron Hill Imagery, in Salt Lake City, Utah. NSON purchased the photo and the copyright from Ron Hill Imagery, on behalf of Governor Johnson. Modified by User:Designate to improve colors (2011-06-05) from original (File:Garyjohnsonphoto.JPG)

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