Libertarian town hall: Johnson and Weld sell a ticket of ‘optimism’

NEW YORK, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld tried to made their case at Wednesday’s CNN Libertarian Town Hall for being part of the presidential debates.

The Johnson/Weld Libertarian ticket is currently polling between about 9 percent and 12 percent, just short of the 15 percent needed to qualify them for the debates, according to the rules of the Commission on Presidential Debates.

“I’m not really frustrated,” Johnson told Anderson Cooper. “I’m just understanding how difficult it is to cross over the line if you’re a former elected Republican.”

Weld preferred to sell the basic idea of Libertarians, but also acknowledged any third party is currently at a disadvantage.

“We stand for the proposition …we want the government out of your pocketbook and out of your bedroom. And the polling shows a majority of Americans think that,” Weld said.

“The idea that we should not be at those debates expressing what is a majority point of view in the country, can only be laid at the door of the two-party monopoly… that has a stranglehold on power in Washington,” he said.

Weld also it would be “refreshing” to build a coalition of Democrats and Republicans in the White House and as part of the cabinet.

“Our proposals would not say, ‘Take that you stupid D Party or you stupid R Party,’ it would be ‘here’s what we think this is kind of in the middle, can we come together around this’ and the recipients of that information would not feel attacked so they might be more likely to come to the table.” Weld said

Both men resisted the notion that the United States is no longer great, with Johnson saying they were selling “optimism.”

However, both carefully chose their criticisms of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Johnson criticized the Clintons for “making money off this. Bill goes out and does a million dollar speaking gig and the next day, Hillary signs a deal with the sponsor of the speaking gig and that’s not good. That’s beholden, if you want to say that. It smacks of pay-to-play.”

Weld called Trump “the Pied Piper. He’s the Music Man. More recently, it’s gotten a little more serious. What comes to my mind is a screw loose. I say this almost with affection. Maybe he should consider some other line of work, like anything other than President of the United States.”

Johnson also pushed back against the current sentiment against free trade.

“Unfairly, the world has really connected crony capitalism and free trade,” he said. “The thought is that it’s one in the same, when in fact, it’s the opposite. We’re all about free trade.”

On terrorism:

Johnson told a questioner, “We’re are at war with terrorism, and we will do everything we can to protect the United States from that threat, but not we’re going to support regime change. Our military interventions, when it comes to regime change, have led to the unintended consequences of making things worse, not better.”

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