Public support for Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson currently sits at roughly eight percent in national polling, a little more than half of the level he needs to be included in the fall debates, according to the rules. The former two-term Republican Governor of New Mexico has come under fire from some conservatives for acting as a potential spoiler for Donald Trump -- in fact, Trump is benefitting from Johnson's presence in the race -- while others argue that the advocate for limited government has spent too much time and energy pandering to disgruntled left-wing voters. What is his sales pitch to disaffected elements of the center-right? I posed that question and many others to Johnson in an extended, exclusive sit-down interview earlier this week. The first installments of our conversation are featured below
One issue that has consumed much of the 2016 cycle's political oxygen is immigration, on which the Republican nominee has issued a series of controversial statements and proposals -- and the Democratic nominee has vowed to go even further than President Obama in pursuing constitutionally-dubious executive actions if Congress fails to bend to her will. I asked Johnson about his immigration policies from the perspective of a border state governor (:30), and pressed him on his previously-stated support for Obama's unilateral executive amnesty (6:45). Along the way, we also sparred over the term "illegal immigrant," to which Johnson strenuously objected (4:20) as "incendiary" and offensive:
Johnson laid out a pro-immigration platform, making the case that a robust legal immigration regime, featuring permissive work permit standards, is a boon to the US economy. And he again defended Obama's 'DAPA' executive order as "appropriate," although he hedged on its constitutionality. In another segment of our chat, Johnson offered an "elevator pitch" to undecided right-leaning Americans, offered indictments against both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and explained his greatest government-constraining achievement over eight years as the Land of Enchantment's chief executive. Plus, why does he, a libertarian, keep saying that he agrees with Bernie Sanders, a socialist, '73 percent' of the time? And how might this assignment of agreement percentages apply to other major political figures on the scene today? Watch:
Johnson described his ticket's outlook as "fiscally conservative and socially inclusive," adding that unlike the two major party nominees, he and his running mate support free trade. He assailed Mrs. Clinton as an ethically compromised ("pay for play") and dishonest statist, and sharply criticized Trump's ideas on immigration and trade. He touted his record of "cutting the rate of growth of government in half" as governor as a proud accomplishment, noting that he earned re-election in a blue state even after establishing a reputation as a "penny pincher." Later this week, we'll reveal Gov. Johnson's thoughts on issues ranging from the Second Amendment, to Obamacare, to the Iran deal, to the Hobby Lobby decision. Stay tuned.