Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson campaigned at Liberty
University Monday, telling students not to vote for “somebody you don’t believe
Johnson’s speech before a capacity crowd at the Lynchburg,
was part of a
daylong campaign swing Johnson made through the state. Liberty’ president, Jerry Falwell, Jr., is an outspoken
supporter of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Johnson was the latest in a growing list of presidential
contenders to speak at the school.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz declared his run for the GOP nomination
at Liberty in 2015, and just a week ago, Republican vice presidential nominee
Mike Pence addressed the student body.
The mostly evangelical crowd gave Johnson a friendly reception, but was cool to his views on abortion rights and religious liberty.
However, Jerry Falwell, Jr. said in his opening remarks that former Libertarian
presidential nominee Ron Paul won the school’s voting precinct in the 2012 GOP
primary contest against Mitt Romney.
Johnson sought to distinguish himself from the major party
candidates, highlighting his background as an entrepreneur and emphasizing the
value of honesty.
“Always tell the truth,” Johnson said. “If you tell the
truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
Johnson’s speech was short on specific policy ideas, but he
gave the crowd a broad overview of Libertarian ideas.
Johnson embraced school choice, and criticized the drug war and
the national debt.
He also supported changing the Affordable Care Act, which
Johnson said was like having “grocery store insurance.”
“I’m going to pick filets every time, because there’s no
pricing, and no transparency,” he said.
Johnson said health insurance would cover only catastrophic
illness, but not routine medical procedures.
With transparency in pricing, and competition among
providers, Johnson said routine procedures would be taken care of at “gall bladders-R-us, or stitches-R-us.”
He also made a pitch for a more liberal immigration program,
taking aim at Trump’s pledge to build a wall across the southern U.S. border.
“We should embrace immigration in this country,” Johnson
said, and make it “as easy as possible” for immigrants to get work visas.
“Let’s not build a wall across the border,” Johnson said.
“We [would] be on the wrong side of history.”
In a short question and answer session after his remarks,
Johnson was asked whether voting for a third party candidate such as himself
was throwing away a vote.
“Voting for somebody you don’t believe in, that’s throwing
away your vote,” Jonson said.
Asked what he would do to lessen racial tension in the
country, Johnson said: “The roots of discrimination lie in war on drugs.”
Johnson told the largely evangelical crowd that while he
personally is anti-abortion, abortion rights are “the law of the land.”
“Libertarians are all about personal choice, all about
personal liberty,” Johnson said.
He said that as governor of New Mexico “I did try to
eliminate the funding of Medicaid for abortion.”
“That was the recognition that so many people abhor the use
of government funds being used for abortion, and I did not find that to be an
issue,” Johnson said.
He also said that while he supports religious freedom, many
state laws on the topic “are discriminatory against the LGBT community.”
A Christopher Newport University Wason Center poll released Sunday showed Democrat Hillary
Clinton leading with 44 percent of the vote in Virginia, with Trump at 29 percent.
Johnson polled 11 percent, a decline of four percentage
points since the Center’s Sept. 26 survey.
The Sunday poll showed Johnson running strongest in Hampton Roads,
which has a high concentration of active and retired military personnel.
Johnson had 20 percent of the vote in that region, in third
place behind Clinton, with 42 percent and Trump, with 25 percent.
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