spoke in front of a banner that had a huge image of his face and the
slogan "When Gary Johnson Goes To Washington, Everybody Goes."
Brinck Slattery, state coordinator for the OUR America Initiative,
introduced Michael Harrington "former Public Utilities Commissioner,
state representative and longtime state activist," who introduced
Johnson. Johnson spoke for
about 20 min. 50 sec., then took questions. The speech
doesn't break a lot of new ground; for example it is similar to the
speech he gave at CPAC in February. He
repeats the seemingly impossible proposal he put forth there ("I'm
advocating balancing the federal budget tomorrow.") Johnson went
off on a few tangents, and there is not really a stirring call to "come
join the crusade." Curiously, the statement
the campaign issued on Johnson's announcement has considerably
different and more punchy rhetoric.
Former Gov. Gary
Thursday, April 21, 2011
[DEMOCRACY IN ACTION TRANSCRIPT Copyright © 2011]
Thank you and good morning. This morning I'm here
to introduce who I hope will be the next President of the United
States, Gary Johnson. Gary's a former two-term governor from New
Mexico and during that time he cast more vetoes than any other governor
in the country, in fact more than all of them combined. He was
not willing to compromise on core principles like taxes. He's
more than just a governor though, or an ex-governor. He's also a
former businessman; he owned his own company that employed over a
thousand people. He's a great athlete; he's climbed many high
altitude peaks including Mount Everest. And he's a new type of
leader that we need in the United States. He maintains core
Republican priniciples like smaller size government and less taxes but
also believes in personal responsibility and personal freedom.
He's the new leader we need, and it gives me a great pleasure to
support someone for president that I can say—not like I have like
most of the times in the past—that he's a lesser of two evils; he's
not as bad as the other guy. Gary is someone I can truly support
and I hope he will be the next President of the United States.
GARY JOHNSON: Well
this is the first time I get to say this, but I am running for
President of the United States. And to
do that, I think you have to have a certain resume to be able to do
that and I like to think that I do have it.
I've been an entrepreneur my entire life, ever since I've been 13 years
old, I've been an entrepreneur throwing newspapers, doing lawns.
Since I've been 17 years old I've paid for everything that I've had in
my life, and when I was 21 years old, when I was a junior in college, I
started a one man handyman business in Albuquerque, me, and 20 years
later actually employed a thousand people—electrical, mechanical,
plumbing, pipefitting. American Dream come true. Naively
when I was elected Governor of New Mexico, being Governor of New Mexico
and being in business wasn't really a plus, and so we weren't getting
the work that we should have. So in 1999 I sold that
business. Nobody lost their job, and that business is doing
better than ever.
Entrepreneurally I ran for Governor of New Mexico. I had never
been involved in politics prior to running for Governor of New
Mexico. I went and I introduced myself to the Republican Party,
much like I'm doing right now. But I introduced myself to the
Republican Party a couple of weeks before I announced and John
Latoosie, who was the chairman of the Republican Party in New Mexico,
he said man, I like you, the Republican Party's going to love
you. We're an open party so when it comes to running for Governor
of New Mexico it's going to be an open process, you're going to get to
take part in the debates and the discussions that'll go on
statewide. And of course I'm thinking this is all I could ever
ask for. And then he says, I just think you're great, but you
need to know that you'll never get elected, that it's not possible to
come from completely outside of politics and get elected Governor in a
state that's two to one Democrat.
Well I got elected, and I would like to think it was based on what I
had to say, and it's what I have to say right now. Everything
should be a cost-benefit analysis. What are we spending our money
on and what are we getting for the money we're spending. So in
New Mexico I think I was more outspoken than any governor in the
country regarding school choice. I really believe in free
markets. I really believe that bringing in this case educational
entrepreneurs to bear when it comes to education would really make a
difference. So I did that in New Mexico.
I probably, it may be a bit of an embellishment, but I may have vetoed
more bills, when you consider the line items that I also vetoed in New
Mexico, I may have vetoed more legislation than the other 49 governors
in the country combined. And it wasn't just saying no. It
was really looking at what we were spending our money on and what we
were getting for the money that we were spending. And I really do
believe in smaller government. I really believe that there are
consequences of legislation that gets passed, and maybe it isn't in our
best interest[s?] to pass all the legislation that we pass, that it
layers, that it layers bureaucracy on transactions that aren't made any
safer by you and I, but that just end up just making it so much more
cumbersome, so much more burdensome and ends up adding a lot of money
as opposed to the notion of liberty and freedom and the personal
responsibility that goes along with that.
As Governor of New Mexico, I think I raised a dialogue regarding the
war on drugs. It was just an extension of everything that I did
as Governor of New Mexico which was what are we spending our money on
and what are we getting for the money that we're spending.
So I'm outraged over the fact that this country is bankrupt. And
how did we get here? How did we get ourselves into this
position? My entire life, I've watched government spend more
money than what it takes in, and I've just always thought that there
would be a day of reckoning with regard to that spending. And I
think that day of reckoning is here and that it's right now, and that
it needs to be fixed. So who's responsible?
A week ago I'm asked, should President Obama's health care plan be
repealed? Yes, I think that President Obama's health care plan
should be repealed because we simply can't afford it. But what I
said then and I'll say now, I think Republicans would gain a lot of
credibility in this argument if Republicans would offer up a repeal of
the prescription health care benefit that they passed when they
controlled both houses of Congress and ran up record deficits.
Now those record deficits and that spending is pale in comparison to
today, but the point is is both parties can share in where we've gotten
to right now. I think we're on the verge of a financial collapse
in this country. And it's, the writing's on the wall. This
isn't fear-mongering, this is we are going to encounter a financial
collapse because quite simply we can't repay $14 trillion in debt when
we're racking up $1.65 trillion in debt going forward. It's just,
it's not going to happen.
So I'm advocating balancing the federal budget tomorrow. I don't
have a 20-year plan for balancing the federal budget. The plan
for balancing the federal budget is tomorrow. And that's $1.65
trillion in reduced federal spending. You know that the debate
and the discussion that went on a couple of weeks ago regarding
government reduced spending was we need to be cutting government
spending by 43 cents. What went on two weeks ago was about less
than one penny, and it turns out after some analysis that it actually
was like one one-hundredth of a penny of the 43 cents that we need to
cut when it comes to federal spending. So we need to play out
what happened in Washington a couple of weeks ago hundreds of more
times if we're going to actually bring this to bear.
And when you talk about balancing the federal budget, I think it's
important to start out by talking about Medicaid, Medicare, Social
Security. It's not cutting Social Security; it's really making
Social Security solvent so it's reforming Social Security. And
it's defense spending. When it comes to Medicaid and Medicare, I
think the federal government could simply block grant the states a
fixed amount of money which would be 43 percent less than what we're
currently spending, do away with all the strings, all the mandates, and
give states the ability to deliver health care to the poor and those
over 65. And that would be 50 laboratories of innovation.
And I'll be talking about this this whole time running for President,
the notion that this is about 50 states. That constitutionally
this is country that we have. Our 50 laboratories of innovation
all out in this notion of best practices, best practices get
emulated. Of course there's going to be failure; failure gets
avoided. But the notion that Washington knows best has us in the
position that we're in right now, which is bankrupt.
When it comes to Social Security, Social Security is a problem that is
pale in comparison to Medicare. Medicare is going to engulf the
entire federal budget here in a very short amount of time if it's not
brought under control, but Social Security, very simply. It's a
system that needs to take in more money than what it pays out. So
without raising taxes when it comes to Social Security, you could raise
the retirement age, you could have means testing, you could change the
escalator that's built into Social Security from the wage index to the
inflation index. That third item would, as I understand it, in
and of itself make Social Security solvent into the future.
And then when it comes to defense spending, can we cut 43-percent of
our defense budget and still maintain a strong national defense?
I believe that we can and we have an obligation to do that. We
have an obligation to provide ourselves with a strong national defense,
but I think a strong national defense is way different than what we're
currently engaged in which in my opinion is just nation-building all
across the world when we have our own nation to build. I would
have been opposed to Iraq at the get-go. I thought we had the
military surveillance capability to see Iraq roll out any weapons of
mass destruction. If they would have done that I felt like we
could have gone in and militarily addressed that situation. I
thought if we went into Iraq we would find ourselves in a civil war to
which there would be no end. Afghanistan, initially I thought
that was totally warranted. That's what we have a military
for. We were attacked; we attacked back. We are at war with
Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda and we should remain vigilant to the
terrorist threat, but after being in Afghanistan for about six months
we'd effectively taken out al Qaeda. That was ten years
ago. We're building roads, schools, bridges, highways and
hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan and we're borrowing 43 cents out of
every dollar to do that. In my opinion that is just crazy.
I think we should get out of Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow.
And for all the debate and discussion that we will have over that
issue, all of which will be warranted, I just suggest to you we will
have that same debate and discussion 25 years from now if that's when
we finally decide to get out. And in the meantime we're going to
continue to spend more money in those locations; we're going to
continue to spend money that we don't have and worse yet a whole lot
more men and servicewomen are going to end up losing their lives.
Libya. In the environment that I'm in right now, I've got to
issue an opinion on everything right away and so Libya. I'm
opposed to what happened in Libya A through Z. Starting out with
where was the constitutional authority, where was the Congress
check-off on us going into Libya? Where is it in the Constitution
that says that because we don't like a foreign leader that we should go
in and topple that foreign leader? And who are the rebels in
Libya? Have we not injected ourselves into a civil war in
Libya? And aren't there five other countries in the Middle East
right now that qualify for the same military intervention that we have
implemented in Libya. Under the umbrella of a no-fly zone Saddam
Hussein existed for 12 years. Under the umbrella of a no-fly zone
did the atrocities in Bosnia occur. So at what point then do
ground troops become committed in Libya? And I think we've
already seen that. The unintended consequence of government and
it's actions— We take out Saddam Hussein and there goes the check to
Iran, which may in fact be a military threat or a— which may in fact be
a security threat to the United States. I don't believe that at
this point it exists at all, but it's something that we should remain
vigilant toward and will remain vigilant toward.
So it goes on and on and on.
I believe in free markets. In what I'm going to embark on, the
discussion, the debate will be over government, government regulation
and free markets, and I am always the one that's going to defend free
markets. I think when free markets are talked about in terms of
here are the root of all our evils, I would always point out that well
in fact it's the reason— the fact that we don't have free markets is
the result of the problems that we end up having. It's government
and the unintended consequences of government and its actions, picking
winners and losers, picking winners and losers when it comes to
business, picking winners and losers when it comes to banking, and
picking winners and losers when it comes to foreign governments.
The unintended consequence of government. And having been
Governor of New Mexico, and having vetoed 750 pieces of legislation, I
always tried to put myself in the position of what going to be the
unintended consequence of this legislation? Was it going to make
a difference in anyone's life in New Mexico, and weren't we going to
end up just spending a whole lot more money when it came to these
So looking at health care in this country, believing in free markets,
believing that the government could really provide solutions when it
comes to health care by just eliminating impediments for health care
entrepreneurs to enter into the health care space to deliver better
products, better services at lower prices. And by the way health
care in this country is about as far removed from free market as it
possibly could be. But always in this process, in this upcoming
debate, in this upcoming discussion which I relish I'm going to be the
one that's going to take on the defense of the free market system and
how if it were actually applied it would make a difference.
Immigration right now I think is a really hot button issue. It's
a debate, it's a discussion that should take place. I happen to
think that immigration is really a good thing. I think that this
country is based on immigration. I view immigration as a job
creator not a situation that takes away jobs. Right now because
of our convoluted immigration policies, kids from abroad are coming and
getting educated in the United States, but because of our convoluted
immigration policies we're sending them back to their countries of
origin where ultimately they're going to employ tens of millions of
Indians as opposed to tens of millions of Americans with businesses
that would have started up, developed and been nurtured here in this
I advocate elimination of the corporate income tax, recognizing that it
is a double tax and by eliminating the corporate income tax that would
create tens of millions of jobs in this country very simply; this would
be the place to start up, build, nurture businesses that are currently
taking place in other countries. This corporate income tax was
something that started out as zero in this country. Get back to
that and that's where we'll really see some job creation.
But immigration. Immigration should be about work, not
welfare. We have issues in this country regarding welfare.
Are immigrants coming across the border and taking entry level jobs
from Americans? Absolutely not, because we as Americans, we can
sit at home and collect a welfare check that's just a little bit less
money or the same amount of money for doing nothing. So I think
we should make it as easy as possible for immigrants that want to come
into this country to get a work visa. I'm not talking about
citizenship, I'm not talking about a green card, permanent non-resident
status; I'm talking about a work visa which would entail a background
check and a Social Security card so that applicable taxes would get
Regarding the 11 million illegal immigrants that are here in this
country right now, this is one of those unintended consequences of
government. Government has made it impossible for individuals
that want to come into this country and work to get a work permit, so
they know that if they get across the border, even illegally, that they
can get a job because they have dozens of friends and family that live
in the United States, and if they can get across the border even
illegally, they'll get that same job. When Ronald Reagan set up
an amnesty period in the '80s he coupled that with putting the
government in charge of quotas. Don't get the government involved
in quotas, make it easy to get a work visa, let business determine
whether or not there's a need for the labor. If there's not
immigrants will go back to their countries of origin; if there is jobs
available then we'll see those jobs filled. So there needs to be
a grace period where the 11 million illegal immigrants that are here in
this country right now can get a legal work visa. Legal work
visa, background check, Social Security card so that taxes would get
paid. The notion of building a fence across two thousand miles of
border, the notion of putting the National Guard arm in arm across two
thousand miles of border in my opinion would be a whole lot of money
spent with very little if any benefit whatsoever.
And then as I've said regarding drug policy, legalize marijuana.
Legalize marijuana and arguably 75-percent of the border violence with
Mexico goes away because that's the estimate of the drug cartel's
activities that are engaged in the trade of marijuana. Twenty
eight thousand deaths south of the border over the last four
years. If we can't connect the dots between violence and
prohibition, I don't know if we ever will be able to. These are
disputes that are being played out with guns rather than in the
Let's really take a new look at all of these issues, and that's now
back to my announcement here, my announcement here that I am seeking
the Republican nomination for president of the United States, and that
I look forward to the debate and the discussion that will take
place. And this is a great country. This is a terrific
country. We went to the moon; we can solve these problems that we
have right now, which first and foremost is our insolvency. But
we need to do this, we need to do this now. I wouldn't be here
right now if what I was saying was being said. It's not being
said. And the idea here is to actually— what I'm posing here is
to take part in a contest to be the spokesperson for the Republican
Party. And if the Republican Party doesn't have options, then
perhaps the Republican Party checks off a name that isn't all that
representative of what Republicans might believe. I happen to
think that I speak on behalf of the majority of Republicans, but that's
a contest that I'm engaged in here right now and I just look forward to
the debate and the discussion that will follow. And if I didn't
say it earlier, I had a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington experience as
Governor of New Mexico. I recognize that there are a lot of Mr.
Smiths that go to Washington, but I was one of them, and I really felt
like I made a difference, and I really feel like I could make a
difference in this whole process.
Thank you very much.
Take some questions, comments, any insults that any of you have.
Q. Hi can you describe what your
approach will be here in New Hampshire?
Describe my approach in New Hampshire. So I have been to about 34
states I think in the last 16 months and one of the places that I
really enjoy more than anywhere is New Hampshire, which is really good
because New Hampshire is really key in this whole process for
me. I have to do and want to do really well in New
Hampshire. So I'm going to spend a lot of time in New Hampshire
where you can go from obscurity to prominence overnight with a good
showing in New Hampshire. So I'm going to go out on a limb here
and say that I won't be outworked when it comes to being in New
Hampshire and talking to people.
Q. Is that why you chose New
Hampshire to make your announcement?
Yes it is. It is. It's key to the equation. It's key
to the equation to do well in the early primary states where again you
can go from obscurity to being in a place where the lights don't shine
any brighter. And I love retail politics. I love the fact
that it's really a one on one discussion, debate. I love that
fact in New Hampshire, and I saw this right off the bat. You
know— what do you think about, what do you think about Mitt Romney for
President? Well you know I've only talked to him a couple of
times, I'm having him over for dinner on Thursday night, but I'm still
undecided; I need to meet them all. I like that.
Q. What's different about your
platform from Ron Paul's?
You know I'll let— I ran two campaigns for governor where I didn't
mention my opponent in print, radio or television. The idea was
to present ideas. The idea was to give people a choice as opposed
to the lesser of two evils. So when it comes to me and comparing
myself to others, I'm not the person to talk to. I'd let you draw
Q. If you bypass the exploratory
committee, then how do you approach fundraising?
Bypass the exploratory committee? Well first of all, I'm
committed to doing this so why do an exploratory committee if I'm
committed to do this? So fundraising is obviously part of
this. We intend to have a very aggressive online fundraising
campaign that the website would have gone up I think just like 20
minutes ago, and it's GaryJohnson2012.
Q. Governor, one of the things I
haven't heard you talk much about and it's very important to New
Hamsphire is gun control. Could you talk a little bit about where
you stand on that issue?
Well when it comes to gun control I absolutely support the 2nd
Amendment. As Governor of New Mexico back in 1995 concealed carry
was something that was being hotly debated. I just saw that as an
issue that would actually lead to less gun violence. That would
be supporting concealed carry, so in New Mexico I would have been able
to have signed legislation allowing concealed carry in New Mexico,
believing that it would lead to less overall gun violence, and I think
we've seen that played out, given that so many states have passed that
and that it has come to pass.
Q. Donald Trump joked that Mitt
Romney didn't have enough money. We've got Romney, Huntsman
probably Trump, all multi-millionaires in this race. The
president is talking about raising as much as a billion dollars for his
re-election campaign. How can you compete in that market?
Well, good question. How can you compete in a market that takes
so much money? We really believe that we're going to raise enough
money to be competitive, and to go along with raising that amount of
money, enough money to be competitive—and this would be in the
Republican primary, obviously that's going to involve a lot of work,
and it's going to involve some entrepreneurialship on our part to do
things in a better, more effective way. So I have no complaints
about the way, about the process. Having run for Governor of New
Mexico, I just, I don't have any complaints. The rules are what
they are, and I accept that and expect to do well in this process.
Q. How do you feel about unions?
How do I feel about unions? You know I just have one issue with
unions. Just one, and that is that union has— Let's just use two
hypothetical members of the union. That of those two hypothetical
members of the union, one is the worst worker that I've ever seen in my
entire life, the other one is the best worker that I've ever seen in my
entire life or encountered or been associated with. I can't
reward the best, and I can't fire the worst. I have to accept
them both as being equal, and I just don't think it works.
Thank you all very much.