Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson plans to “keep plugging along” despite his exclusion from televised campaign debates and public-opinion polls.
Johnson, a former two-term New Mexico governor, made a campaign stop in Washington, D.C., on November 17, where he held an Internet town hall meeting that featured a studio audience filling a lecture hall to capacity at the University of California Washington Center. The town hall was hosted by Johns Hopkins University professor Robert Guttman and was webcast interactively over Yowie.com.
After the 90-minute session, Johnson spoke to reporters from POLITICO and lodeplus.com about his campaign and his policy views.
‘Hanging out to dry’
Repeating a complaint he made about the Republican National Committee during the town hall discussion, Johnson said that the party establishment had “left me hanging out to dry. They’ve let the networks determine who Republicans should hear or not hear.”
Because invitations to the televised debates rely on criteria that include certain benchmarks based on performance in public-opinion polls, Johnson has appeared in just two of the numerous GOP presidential debates so far.
Calling the situation a “Catch-22,” Johnson identified the problem as his being “not included in the polls that determine who [will be] in these debates.”
The solution, he suggested, is that the Republican National Committee “could step up and play a big role in this,” by setting rules that current or former officeholders at the congressional or gubernatorial level should automatically be listed in the polls that are used to determine debate inclusion and, if they are not, the RNC should say “that they’re going to boycott the debates [because], philosophically, Republicans should decide who their candidates should be, not CNN.”
Instead of doing this, however, Johnson complained that the party leadership has “blown me off.”
Shaking his head ruefully, he added, “I have not left the Republican party; the Republican party has left me — left me hanging.”
Shifting gears, Johnson answered questions from the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner about his experience with the broadcast media and policy issues in the headlines.
Fun on Red Eye
The night before his D.C. town hall, Johnson had been a panelist on Red Eye, the puckish Fox News Channel program that airs at 3:00 o’clock a.m. on the East Coast.
Participating on Red Eye, he said, “was fun. It was just fun. Really fun.”
The other panelists, including regulars Andy Levy and Bill Schulz, he said, were “totally” friendly to him.
On issues in the news, Johnson said that we can reduce crony capitalism, as exemplified by the half-billion dollar loan to the bankrupt energy technology company Solyndra, by enacting the Fair Tax.
“Enact the Fair Tax” he repeated, and “all subsidies go away. No more subsidies. No more subsidies.” (The Fair Tax is a proposal to do away with all current federal taxes and replace them with a single consumption tax on the retail sale of goods and services.)
The specific case of Solyndra, he explained, “would be a different story because that could still involve government actually making direct investment in business, which should never take place” anyway.
Troops in Oz
On the Obama administration’s announcement that it is deploying thousands of U.S. troops to Australia, Johnson said this was representative of “just one ridiculous decision after another. This has to be politics,” he said, asking rhetorically: “Are 2,500 troops in Australia going to a send the Chinese government a message?”
Between now and the first Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire in January, Johnson said, his campaign will “just keep plugging along. We’re trying to determine our own path here but I’m afraid it is outside our own hands with decisions that are being made” by the GOP establishment and the news media. “Anyone looking at” those decisions, he said, will see they “are unfair.”
As for his next step, Johnson will be taking a break. “I’m going to go back to New Mexico for Thanksgiving for a week,” he said, repeating, almost wistfully, “For one week.”
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