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libertarian party presidential candidate gary johnson Gary Johnson is the Libertarian Party candidate for President in 2012. (Photo courtesy Gary Johnson 2012)

Election 2012: Interview with Gov. Gary Johnson

Libertarian Party candidate for President talks with Kid Reporter

By Andrew Liang | November 4 , 2012

During the 2012 Presidential General Election, we hear a lot about President Barack Obama, the Democratic Party nominee, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the Republican Party nominee. But those two aren't the only ones running for President.
 
Gary Johnson is the Presidential nominee of a third party, the Libertarian Party. Johnson served two terms as the Governor of New Mexico and originally sought the 2012 Republican nomination for President. But after being excluded from several Republican debates, he announced his bid for the Libertarian nomination, which he won on May 5, 2012, during the Libertarian National Convention.

Governor Johnson spoke with Kid Reporter Andrew Liang about being a third-party candidate, his platform, and how his policies would impact America.


Kid Reporter:
Why should kids care about this election?

Governor Gary Johnson:
I think that unless we fix the problems that we face that kids aren't going to be left with a country anymore. And I'm talking about the fact that we are spending a lot more money than what we are receiving, and if we don't fix this, kids are the ones that are going to suffer as a result of it. And by the way, Andrew, I think I'm going to suffer from it too, but you're going to really suffer from it.

Kid Reporter: What is the single biggest challenge to fixing the economy, and how will you deal with it if you are elected?

Gov. Johnson:
I think the single biggest challenge is the fact that we're not really being presented right now with any leadership on what really needs to be done. What really needs to be done is balancing the federal budget and what really needs to be done is reforming the PAC system so that it can set up the potential of tens of millions of new jobs in this country. I don't think President Obama or Mitt Romney are talking about either one. They're paying lip service only to both of those issues – balancing the budget and genuinely creating jobs.

Kid Reporter:
What will you do to make sure the country is preparing workers for the jobs of the future?

Gov. Johnson:
Well, that really is education. And so I think that education should be left to the states, not the federal government. And I think that if education is completely left to the states – and by the way if I'm i,n a state I would want education left to the municipality, meaning the city, the town. If I was a state, I would like to see education left to the schools themselves, but I don't want the federal government involved in education. I think that it ends up setting standards that cost you time and money and don't make any difference in education. I want to stop that.

Kid Reporter: What can be done to make sure all kids go to great schools with great teachers?

Gov. Johnson:
I think it would be to have school choice. I think that it would be to allow you and your family to decide which school that you could go to as opposed to not having any choices right now. You do have choices, but you have to pay for choices. I would like to create a system where you would have a whole bunch of choices and the government would afford you the ability to do that. But I think that that is the meat of our issue that the state should be addressing and not the federal government.

Kid Reporter: What can be done to make sure that kids my age get a good college education and will not be stuck in a pile of debt?

Gov. Johnson: Well, how old are you right now?

Kid Reporter: I am 13, sir.

Gov. Johnson: 13... So I think the main reason why higher education costs so much is because of guaranteed government student loans that make college tuition artificially high. If there were no government guaranteed student loans, college tuition would be much lower.

Kid Reporter: This has been one of the hottest summers on record, with historic drouts and wildfires across the country. Many scientists attribute this to climate chance. What would you do as president to combat climate change and protect the environment?

Gov. Johnson: I think that it's a fallacy to think that government can fix this. I think that you and I are demanding less carbon emission, and that we are going to get less carbon emission. So I think that the best indicator of a good environment is a good economy and that you and I, like I say, are demanding less carbon emission. But if government mandates that, if government implements a cap and trade taxation on carbon emissions, I think it would be devastating to the economy.

Kid Reporter: We learned in school that America was built by immigrants. How important is immigration today and to the future of our country?

Gov. Johnson: I think its really important and I agree with you that it is the foundation of this country, so I think we should make it as easy possible for someone that wants to come into this country and work to get a work visa – make it as easy as possible for somebody that wants to come into the country to do that.

Kid Reporter: When did you realize that you wanted to be President and why do you still want the job?

Gov. Johnson: Well, I think - first off, I would not be doing this if I didn't think that I could do a really good job at the job, and growing up I have always thought that politics was a high calling – the notion of doing good by others. So getting elected Governor of New Mexico, I really did enjoy that job. I thought I made a really big difference and I think the same running for President of the United States – that I could make a really big positive difference.

Kid Reporter:
Why do you think you were excluded from several of the Republican presidential debates, and how did that make you feel?

Gov. Johnson: Well, it was very, very unfair what they did. CNBC, in their first debate, said that I had to be at 4 percent in any national poll over the prior year, they said that I had to be registered to run for President. Well, Andrew, I was at 4 percent in Gallup in May, so I met that one. I was registered to run, I met that one. They wouldn't return my calls as to why they would not give me a seat on the stage. I asked the Republican national party to stand up for me, saying that if you don't stand up for me, basically you are having a media dictate who Republicans can and cant hear, and they blew me off. So I just think that I was very, very unfairly treated. That is one example of dozens of examples where I'm going to argue that I was very, very unfairly treated.

Kid Reporter:
Why do you seek the Libertarian Party nomination for the presidency?

Gov. Johnson: Because I think that this is a message that's way too important - that what I am talking about are the real solutions to the problems that we have. And if I can go down the litany of issues that I think we have and the solutions, it would be to not bomb Iran, it would be to get our troops out of Afghanistan tomorrow, it would be to recognize marriage equality, it would be to end the war on drugs, [...] it would be to repeal the PATRIOT Act, it would be to repeal the National Defense Authorization Act, it would be to balance the federal budget now, it would be to eliminate income tax, corporate tax, abolish the IRS and establish one federal consumption tax, in this case I am embracing the FairTax. I think that everything that I just said is different than Obama and Romney. I think they are very important issues and I think the majority of Americans actually recognize that these issues need to be addressed and I'm going to argue that if given the opportunity and I was heard, that I would be the next President of the United States.

Kid Reporter: If you were able to speak to President Obama or Governor Romney, what would you tell them?

Gov. Johnson: I guess to talk to them each and every day. President Obama, how about doing the things that you actually talk about, and Governor Romeny, I don't believe that building a fence across the border is a good idea. I think it would be a waste of time and money. And Governor Romney, you say that you want to balance the budget but you want to increase spending for defense and you want to hold Medicare intact? It doesn't add up. You are supposed to be smart guy, but it doesn't add up.

Kid Reporter:
What is the main difference between the Libertarian Party when compared to Democratic and Republican parties?

Gov. Johnson: I think Libertarians are really good at civil liberty, something that Democrats are supposed to be good at. I think Libertarians crush Democrats when it comes to dollars and cents. I think Democrats are horrible when on dollars and cents. I think the Libertarian Party crushes Republicans on civil liberty. I think they are horrible on civil liberty. I think the Libertarian Party does a lot better on dollars and cents than the Republican Party, something that the Republican Party is supposed to be good at, but they are not very good at that. So kind of the best of both.

Kid Reporter: How is the Libertarian Party getting the word out that you are running for President?

Gov. Johnson: Well, there's social media, the money that we're spending, radio ads, television ads. But of course, we don't have near the amount of money that the Democrats or the Republicans have, so it's really an uphill battle.

Kid Reporter: Since the Libertarian Party was founded 40 years ago, it has not yet won a presidential election. Do you expect to be the first to win one?

Gov. Johnson: Probably not this election. It's possible the next time. Andrew, the best a Libertarian candidtate for President has ever done is 1 percent of the general election vote, about a million votes. I think I'm going to do a lot better than that this election.

Kid Reporter: Why is it important for a third-party candidtate to run?

Gov. Johnson: Well, every single figure on Mount Rushmore was a third party at one time or another, so third parties become major parties and I think that the Libertarian Party may become my major party.

Kid Reporter: And when do you think that will happen?

Gov. Johnson: I think it could happen in 2016.

ELECTION 2012

Scholastic News Kid Reporters are on the campaign trail! Keep up with latest election news on the Election 2012 website.

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