Saturday, May 14, 2016

Johnson in "most negative race of my career"

Libertarian Party faces a nomination fight in a #NeverTrump world - Washington Post - David Weigel:

May 13, 2016 - "Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico and 2012 Libertarian Party nominee for president, may have found his moment.... .... One small problem: Johnson is not the Libertarian Party’s nominee for 2016. Not yet. When the party meets at the end of the month, in Orlando, its hundreds of delegates will not be bound to any candidate. And Johnson has been under assault, for months, by two rivals who say he would blow the election.

"'It’s the most negative race of my career, by far,' said Johnson in an interview this week.... 'This is very personal, and I don’t get it. My defense is: None of it is being thrown back at them. You want to talk about the issues? Then fine, fine. But holy cow! It’s silly, just silly.'

"As the Libertarian Party faces perhaps the biggest opening of its 40-year history, it’s hosting a contest between the amiable left-libertarian Johnson, the youthful party activist Austin Petersen, and the larger-than-life anti-virus pioneer John McAfee. Johnson’s 2012 performance — a record 1.3 million votes for the party — has been dismissed by challengers who think he’s too compromised or easygoing to seize the moment....

"The Libertarian nomination seems even more valuable now, with a March poll by Monmouth University putting Johnson — by far the best-known candidate — at 11 percent in a race with Clinton and Trump. Johnson, as the only candidate to serve in elected office, says he could build on that and crack the 15 percent threshold for entering the presidential debates. McAfee and Petersen are convinced that he would waste it. This is no year for an 'experienced' candidate, much less one who spent the past few years in the edible marijuana business....

"At the highest-profile moment of the race so far, a debate on Fox Business, Petersen attempted to trip up Johnson with libertarian logic puzzles. His supporters have widely circulated the resulting videos, in which Petersen’s bumper sticker-perfect answers run against Johnson’s attempts to talk through the issues.

“'Should a Jewish baker be required to bake a Nazi wedding cake?' asked Petersen in a discussion about religious liberty. 'That would be my contention,' said Johnson....  'How about the utility that is privately owned, and because it’s the only market where I can buy my electricity, they’re gonna cut me off?' 'This betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of the free market,' said Petersen.... Later, Petersen goaded Johnson over a libertarian heresy – questioning whether people adjudicated mentally ill should be allowed to purchase firearms....

"In an interview this week, Johnson acknowledged that the campaign had been negative and denied that Petersen had gotten under his skin. 'I think I do a pretty good job of communicating what it is I want to communicate,' he said. The problem was that he wanted to deal with real-world implications, not theory, on something like guns being denied to dangerous people. 'We should absolutely be open to a discussion on how that might get accomplished. And having vetoed as many bills as I’ve vetoed, I’ve not seen any proposals that might preclude me from having a gun for failing some test. So, open to a discussion? Yes!'”

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