Libertarian candidate for president, Gary Johnson, stumped in Seattle Saturday, rallying a mostly male, mostly millennial crowd.
“This is the craziest election ever, and it’s crazy because I think I am going to be the next president of the United States,” he said to loud cheers.
Johnson, the former Republican Governor of New Mexico turn Libertarian, stressed an agenda of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism.
He promised to cut government waste and entire agencies, saying “this whole system is headed for bankruptcy.”
He also called for ending the war on drugs, praising Washington state for legalizing marijuana. More than once, he apologized for his Aleppo, Syria gaffe, but stressed that he’s against regime change.
Johnson shared the stage with his running mate, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, who wore a Seahawks jersey. Weld, also a former Republican, took sharp aim at both major political parties and their presidential nominees.
“The two parties seem to exist with one main party which is to kill each other,” Weld said during his speech.
The 2016 Libertarian ticket has drawn support from celebrities including comedian Drew Carey and Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic, both featured speakers at Saturday’s event.
However, Johnson’s campaign stop comes one day after learning he did not make the cut for the first presidential debate. Since 2000, the Commission on Presidential Debates has required a 15% polling threshold.
Note, Washington is one of several states were his support has reached 15% or more, according to a recent Washington Post/SurveyMonkey poll.
“It is a rigged game,” Johnson told KING 5 in a one-on-one interview Saturday.
Johnson says he plans to continue to fight for entry into the later debates in October.
“Maybe we raise the volume on the fact that Ross Perot was polling lower than we are, and he was the last (third party) candidate on the presidential debate stage.”
Johnson has acknowledged that his campaign hinges on making it onto the debate stage, for name recognition alone.
“70% of Americans don’t even know who I am.”
When asked if the Aleppo mistake hurt his chances, Johnson said it may have had an unintended positive consequence in terms of raising awareness. It turned out to be his biggest fundraising day of the month, according to Johnson.
However, he doesn’t take the blunder it lightly.
“I should have known that. I am certainly very cognizant of the policy that exacts in Syria currently that really is a mess,” said Johnson.
Among the dozens of supporters who turned out to see Johnson Saturday was Navy veteran Roy Runyon.
“I think the military should not be used to realize someone’s vision of the world,” Runyon said of Johnson’s non-interventionist message.
“I’m a big believer in military reform,” he continued when asked about whether he worries about military being cut under a Johnson administration. “We need to look at a real strategy that will provide the best possible defense on our limited dollars.
Other supporters included disaffected Republicans and voters who say they cannot stomach the major Party candidates during what’s become a highly unusual presidential election year.
“Vote your conscience,” said Alexis Larson. “If everyone else is jumping off a bridge, you’re going to jumping off a bridge. I can’t vote for someone I don’t want to win. I’m going to vote for someone I want to win.”