Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson was nowhere to be seen at the official Ron Paul rally in Tampa, but he did make a pitch to Paul’s voters at this weekend’s grassroots-organized Paul Fest.
“I want you all to know that I am a Dr. Paul fan,” Johnson, a former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, told the crowd to loud applause.
Johnson emphasized his agreement with Paul on foreign policy and auditing the Federal Reserve as he made the case that he is the best candidate to move the Texas congressman’s message forward in the presidential race.
Initially, Johnson sought the Republican nomination for president while Paul was still a candidate, but he told the crowd he had long been a Paul supporter.
“Ron Paul asked me for my endorsement in 2008 and I readily gave him that endorsement,” Johnson said. “When I dropped out of the Republican primary, I asked everyone who was going to vote for me to vote for Ron Paul.”
Cheers erupted when Johnson reminded the audience that, during his final appearance in the Republican presidential debates, he said he would pick Ron Paul to be his running mate if nominated.
“If I thought Ron Paul was going to get the nomination I would have not done this and I would have let him get the nomination,” Johnson explained. “I would be along with you supporting Dr. Paul right now.”
“Be Libertarian with me one time,” Johnson said in the video, apparently conceding that many Paul supporters would continue to be Republicans.
But some Paul supporters consider Johnson too moderate on issues like foreign policy. That concern intensified after he told the Weekly Standard in 2010 that he was not opposed to unspecified humanitarian military interventions.
Reason magazine senior editor and “Ron Paul’s rEVOLution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired” author Brian Doherty told The Daily Caller News Foundation last week that he estimated Johnson would get a third of Paul’s 2 million votes from the GOP primaries.
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