FYI - From MyWestTexas.com/James Cannon and LPTN.org.
-ADY "A Regular Guy On The Issues"
Libertarian presidential candidate optimistic about uphill fight.
Libertarian Presidential nominee Gary Johnson signs an autograph for 10-year-old Michael Dameron Tuesday at Dee's Bistro & Grill in Odessa. The third-party candidate kicked off his Texas tour in the Permian Basin in an effort to garner more support ahead of the presidential debates. Michael's mother, Charlotte, said it was important for her to teach her son that an individual could make a difference in a grassroots effort.
ODESSA -- In an attempt to gain more supporters and increase polling numbers ahead of the presidential debates, Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson began a weeklong tour of Texas on Tuesday.
The third-party candidate gave a 20-minute stump speech before answering questions from a couple dozen West Texans at Dee's Bistro & Grill. After stating his credentials as a former small business owner and two-term governor of New Mexico, Johnson spent the majority of his time defining his nuanced view of issues that face America.
"I'm socially accepting and fiscally responsible," Johnson said. "I believe the majority of Americans fall into this category."
The Libertarian told supporters the biggest problem facing his campaign is a lack of exposure. He admitted that if he were to have any chance in the general election, he would need to be on the podium with President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney during the debates. But therein lies the problem, he said. To be invited to the national debates, which are viewed by millions, Johnson would need to poll at least 15 percent nationally. As it stands now, only three of the 18 major polling institutes have him on the questionnaire, and he is only polling about 1 to 2 percent nationally.
"We should readdress how the (election, polling and debate) system works, but the Commission on Presidential Debates is run exclusively by Democrats and Republicans and they have no interest in reworking presidential debates," Johnson said.
Johnson said that not only was he the only third-party candidate on the ballot in all 50 states, but that he was the only candidate who cared about civil liberty issues and a sound fiscal policy. Johnson rattled off a list of his Libertarian credentials to an enthusiastic crowd: Support for a balanced budget, equality for all Americans to marry, abolishment of federal income taxes, support for bringing the troops home from Afghanistan, the willingness to call the drug war a failure and to refuse to bomb Iran.
"I've always supported issues first and politics last," Johnson said about his willingness to tackle contentious issues such as entitlement reform and immigration.
He recounted his history running for governor of New Mexico. Even though the Republican party said they would include him, he told the audience, the establishment said he had no chance of winning as an outsider Republican in a two-to-one Democrat state.
He ended up winning and proceeded to veto more legislation than all of New Mexico's governors before him, he said during his meet-and-greet. The next election, he won by an even larger margin, he recounted. Johnson added that he liked to think it was based on his ideas and governing policy.
Several in the crowd asked Johnson's opinion on an array of subjects, and the former governor provided detailed, nuanced explanations instead of the typical 30-second sound bite. During most explanations, like immigration, he said there wasn't a simple answer or a one solution fix. He said the country needed to readdress its worker visa program, end the war on drugs to take away the black market profitability, offer a path to existing illegal immigrants in America, abolish racial and ethnic immigration quotas, end federal income taxes and allow the markets to decided how many jobs low-skilled immigrants could perform in America.
He described the Federal Reserve as a group of "crony capitalists" and called the bailout scheme an "inside job" that was tantamount to grand theft from taxpayers.
Charlotte Dameron brought her 10-year-old son, Michael, to teach him about the importance of integrity and leadership when considering political candidates.
"I vote on issues and Johnson's are in line with mine and the Libertarian Party's," Dameron said. "But I wanted to bring my son to teach him how one person can make a difference in a grassroots effort."
Lydia Colon, of Odessa, was one of the 20-somethings in attendance supporting "personal freedom and less government."
She said she's been a Libertarian for about a year and definitely would vote for Johnson, regardless of how many others would vote for a third-party candidate.
But some like Carol Traut, a political science professor for the University Texas of the Permian Basin, said money and entrenched interests will prevent a third-party candidate from becoming viable. She quickly talked about how America has become a splintered, apathetic society and said even though more people are disaffected, she expects little change.
Regardless, Johnson said he is optimistic about his presidency and his cause of spreading liberty and Libertarianism to the American people as he tours the country.
He will be in Dallas speaking to supporters today as part of his tour in Texas.