Former New Mexico Gov. and Libertarian Gary Johnson visited Charlotte this weekend to discuss his bid for president.
Johnson participated in a 5K race in Huntersville, spoke at a rally on ending unconstitutional wars and attended two fundraisers.
Recent polls show that Johnson, who initially sought the GOP presidential nomination, is drawing support away from President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. He said he feels his message appeals to a majority of Americans, who he describes as socially accepting and fiscally responsible.
Johnson spoke with the Observer about this campaign. Some questions and answers have been edited for brevity.
Q. What are you saying to voters?
Im the only candidate that wants to get out of Afghanistan tomorrow and bring the troops home. The only candidate that wants to repeal the Patriot Act. Only candidate that would not have signed the national defense authorization act. Only candidate that wants to end the drug wars..
Q. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others have said the shootings in Aurora are another reason there should be tougher conversations or tougher gun laws in the country. What, if any, action should be taken?
I think the Second Amendment could not be clearer that we have a right to carry and possess a weapon. Im just sad that nobody in that audience was carrying a weapon that could have stepped in and maybe brought that to an end.
Q. How do you get Congress to adopt a balanced budget?
(I have) two promises on the budget. One is to submit a balanced budget. The other is to veto any legislation where expenses exceed revenue. And even though they override the veto, which theyre going to have to, Im going to suggest to you that any candidate that keeps those two promises that spending will be lower with those two promises kept than any other scenario that you could possibly come up with. Lastly, I am promising to advocate throwing out the entire federal tax system and replacing it with one federal consumption tax, the fair tax.
Q. Are you including independents in a lot of your campaigning and messaging, or are you talking to everyone?
Were talking to everybody. Were not targeting any group believing that whats good for one is good for everybody. New Mexico has the largest Hispanic per capita population of all the 50 states and Im asked quite often what did I do to attract Hispanic votes. I didnt do anything. I just spoke in terms of equality as opposed to trying to attract specific groups and I think that does resonate with people.