Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and his running mate, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, held their first rally in Vermont Wednesday evening. Several hundred people gathered in Burlington to support or learn about the third party ticket.
The Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld is traveling through New England this week. Their goal is to get people to learn more about Libertarian policies, Johnson’s gubernatorial record and running mate Weld’s tenure as Massachusetts governor.
The Wednesday rally in Burlington — following previous visits by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders during this long campaign — attracted several hundred people. Some were supporters of the former New Mexico governor, others curious about who he is and what his policies are.
Addison resident Vickie Smith is disillusioned with both major party candidates, Hillary Clinton and Trump, and came to learn about Libertarian principles. “I hate Hillary and I'm not sold on Trump. And if I didn't vote this would be the first time in my adult life I hadn't voted for President. I’m a little disappointed in the way that Republicans and Democrats can't seem to work together.”
Warren Burnor of Essex Junction voted for Johnson in 2012. He’s pleased that third party candidates are receiving significant attention this year. “The Democrats and Republicans have done a really good job of convincing everybody that they are the only options in this country and it's simply not true. And I don't believe in sacrificing my values for somebody, somebody else's views. I believe my views deserve to be represented. So I've got a couple people here who don't really know much about him so we're coming to listen to what he has to say.”
“I'm Jake Spear from South Burlington. I wanted to learn. I was very interested to learn about the Libertarian Party. We've been told pretty much we have to choose Democrat or Republican. So I'm here to learn what my other options are.”
Leslie Marshall, wife of Johnson’s running mate Bill Weld, reminded the crowd that they don’t have to vote for a major party candidate. “There is no constitutional law that says a president must be brought into the office from one, bought, I should say bought into the office, from one of two long standing parties. You can help overhaul that old rusted machinery in Washington so that we can all move forward again.”
As he took the stage, Johnson joked about the nature of the national campaign. “Is this the craziest election of all time and space? You know crazy it is? I am going to be the next President of the United States.”
Johnson then outlined his platform of social consciousness and fiscal conservatism before answering questions from the crowd. “I do believe we represent the majority of Americans. I think the majority of Americans, I think 60 percent of Americans, are all about being fiscally conservative, socially inclusive. And then I think the majority of Americans recognize that our military interventions, that we need, when we involve ourselves in regime change that it hasn't worked out and that we bring to the world together with free trade. We bring the world together with diplomacy.”
Question topics included college debt, the ticket’s proposed flat consumption tax, working with a fractured Congress, gun policy and marijuana regulations. “My name is Jared Sammis. I'm from Fairhaven, Vermont. What is the opportunity that we have for our country, especially as millennials being the largest generation since the Greatest Generation, to improve our opportunities of having a economy that we can actually survive in?”
Johnson responds: “That is the basis for balancing the federal budget. That is the basis for reforming the entitlements. That it is there for future generations and right now my generation has screwed it up. Neither Democrats or Republicans, Trump or Clinton, are saying that they're going to do anything about this.”
The Johnson-Weld Libertarian ticket will be on the ballot in all 50 states. The duo was set to hold a rally in New Hampshire Thursday. Two events are scheduled in Maine on Friday followed by a Saturday afternoon rally in Boston.