Libertarian Gary Johnson Angling For Disaffected Bernie Sanders Supporters

(Katie Frates)

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON — With Hillary Clinton now the likely Democratic nominee for president, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson is angling for the support of backers of Democratic-socialist Bernie Sanders who refuse to vote for the former secretary of state in a general election.

“Objectively,” Johnson said during a Tuesday interview at The Daily Caller’s offices, “looking at the Bernie connection, it’s there.”

But while the two overlap on some things, like social issues and foreign policy, they “part ways” on economics, Johnson acknowledges.

“When it comes to economics, and the whole notion of free — somebody pays for free,” Johnson said.

Would Johnson consider appointing Sanders to a position in his administration if elected president?

“I don’t think so,” the former New Mexico governor said. “Given his age, I am sure he would have no desire to do that whatsoever. I don’t know why he would want to move from senator to heading up some sort of administrative agency.”

Johnson says he thinks he takes from “equal sides” and could also win votes from Republicans who won’t support Donald Trump in a general election. But the Libertarian nominee doesn’t seem to be actively wooing those voters as much.

Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson is interviewed June. 7, 2016 by reporters in The Daily Caller Lounge. (photo by Katie Frates).

Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson is interviewed June. 7, 2016 by reporters in The Daily Caller Lounge. (photo by Katie Frates).

Asked if he’s spoken to Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, who has been searching for a conservative to mount an independent bid for president, Johnson replied: “Nope.”

And while Johnson says he would sign any bill reduces taxes or makes government smaller, he expressed a number of positions that anti-Trump conservatives probably wouldn’t be comfortable with.

Asked if he would take issue with states that legalized prostitution, Johnson said: “I would not.”

On abortion, the pro-choice Johnson said: “I don’t even want to enter into the argument. I want to give women choice in dealing with that issue, period. Unbelievably difficult decision. I’m going to make it for a woman? Government’s going to make it for a woman? I don’t want to play a part in that role.”

Asked about legalizing drugs like heroin, cocaine, meth, Johnson said: “I’m not advocating that. But I do think that [in] legalizing marijuana…we as a country are going to take a quantum leap when it comes to understanding drugs and drug abuse.”

Asked about the debate over transgender bathrooms, he took a swipe at Republicans who back laws saying people should use restrooms according to their gender at birth: “I’ll tell you, if I would’ve been the governor of North Carolina, when this bill came through, I would’ve vetoed it. It’s just much to do about nothing.”

Asked if it bothers him that the Pledge of Allegiance includes the phrase “one nation under God,” he said: “It doesn’t bother me. But I understand where it bothers some. Is that legislation that’s going to make it to my desk? I doubt it.”

Would Johnson, who says he isn’t very religious, be sworn in as president with a Bible? “I wouldn’t buck that tradition… There’s just no point in taking on, I guess making controversy where you don’t have to.”

Asked to list potential people he would name to the Supreme Court, Johnson said: “I don’t have names for anybody. I mean, looking at Supreme Court nominees, it would be looking at someone who would view the Constitution from its original intent, and no specific litmus tests, just good people.”

Johnson declined to name specific states he has the best chance of winning but said: “I think anything is possible going forward given the unfavorability of Trump and Clinton.”

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