Elections

Gary Johnson VP Pick Continues Longstanding Debate Over Libertarian Orthodoxy

(JOYCE NALTCHAYAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent

William Weld is now the Libertarian Party’s likely vice presidential candidate. The former governor brings credibility, but his past policy views continue a debate within the Libertarian Party between staying orthodox or going mainstream.

His running mate, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, described Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, as “bring[ing] an enormous amount of credibility to what it is I’m doing.” The last time Weld was in office was 1997, but compared to the other candidates currently seeking the Libertarian nomination he is by far the most qualified.

Johnson’s two other competitors for the nomination include Libertarianrepublic.com owner Austin Petersen, who calls himself a “son of the Ron Paul revolution” and a “former male model.” The other main competitor is software developer John Mcafee, who was arrested last year for DUI and met his wife when she was a prostitute.

Weld, however, does not have a long history as a libertarian. Wes Benedict, executive director of the Libertarian Party, told The Daily Caller that the split between the party promoting orthodox or more mainstream libertarianism is a “debate that’s always happened within the party.”

As governor, Weld did lower taxes and he supports socially liberal policies such as gay marriage and marijuana legalization. Though across the board he has not always supported libertarian policy.

In 1993, Weld supported an assault weapons ban and in 2008 he endorsed Barack Obama.

In 2004, Michael Badnarik, the Libertarian Party nominee for president, called the Iraq War a “non-defensive, imperialistic war.” That same year Weld supported George W. Bush and said Bush has “risen to the international challenge.”

“To the extent that [Weld] has supported the Bush neocon line, that is unfortunate,” political consultant Roger Stone told The Daily Caller Saturday. “The Libertarian Party is as freewheeling as it can be. This a party that includes right-libertarians, left-libertarians and outright anarchists,” Stone added.

Stone, who is “100 percent behind Trump,” worked with Gary Johnson’s campaign in 2012 and is registered with the Libertarian Party in Florida.

“The party always has a rollicking convention in which longtime party activists who are incapable of generating money or publicity have been their nominees,” Stone said. “Weld brings a gravitas to Johnson he didn’t have three years ago, he’s a serious guy by any measure.”

In a Facebook post Saturday, Weld responded to criticism from those in the Libertarian Party that say he’s not ideologically pure enough. Regarding his past gun control stance, he said: “I was deeply concerned about gun violence, and frankly, the people I represented were demanding action. Sometimes, governing involves tough choices, and I had to make more than a few. Today, almost 25 years later, I would make some different choices. ”

“Those who know me best and for the longest all know that I have always been a libertarian. I have said it many times, and it is true. Since law school, my bibles have always been The Constitution of Liberty, and The Road to Serfdom, by Friedrich Hayek,” Weld wrote.

The Libertarian Party will nominate their presidential ticket Memorial Day weekend at their Orlando convention. Johnson has told TheDC he considers himself the presumptive nominee, but that is not the official party stance. “Johnson doesn’t have a sure path to the nomination,” Stone told The Caller. He also said that “the vice presidential nomination will be a fight.”

“There is always in the party a deep seated suspicion of Republicans switching largely because they got bamboozled by Bob Barr, a man who was never libertarian. who essentially highjacked their nomination,” Stone said.

The veteran political consultant views a Johnson/Weld ticket as being able to draw fundraising and media attention. Stone said, “That’s always been the party’s handicap. Can you name any of the people they ran for president?”

The urge to elect a moderate politician is certainly not felt by all in the party. “I’m afraid that if Libertarians just start sounding like a mushy Republican or a mushy Democrat people are going to ignore us,” Benedict told TheDC. “I think it’s the time for us to be bold and stick to our principles.”

Stone at one point considered running as the Libertarian Party’s nominee in Florida’s 2016 senate race. He said the only other candidate is a “segregationist and a great believer in eugenics.”