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Johnson addresses bloggers; discusses border control, pot legalization and more

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Gov. Gary Johnson addresses bloggers in a conference call Tuesday.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – With his recent refusal to sign the ultra-conservative “Family Leader” pledge that was ultimately rejected by other leading Republican presidential candidates, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson told bloggers and reporters from around the nation Tuesday that such pledges are a distraction.

“Republicans,” Johnson said, “Let’s get off the social issues. Let’s see if we can’t rally around and get the country’s fiscal house in order.”

Since entering the presidential race in late winter, Johnson has been a bit of a dark horse in the race, garnering little substantial interest in the mainstream media and overshadowed by fellow liberty-minded candidate Ron Paul.

But talking to bloggers in a conference call, Johnson said he is undeterred and promises he is in the race for the long haul, offering a perspective that is largely missing in the increasingly competitive race which could potentially include Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Alaska governor and one-time vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

This is the second time Red Dirt Report has had a chance to participate in one of Johnson’s blogger roundtable conference calls. If anything, Johnson has made himself available and accessible since throwing his hat in the ring.

One questioner asked if contrarian congressman Ron Paul was taking the wind out of his sails as he seeks attention along the campaign trail.

Johnson replied that if he and Paul were garnering 35 percent or more of the “liberty vote,” he said he would like to talk to the Texas congressman and see if something could be worked out. Regardless, the more chances liberty-minded candidates have to get their message to the public, the better off we all are.

During a discussion of government’s role in society, Johnson noted the Environmental Protection Agency and how a federal agency looking to protect the environment is necessary. With that in mind, Red Dirt Report asked Johnson about the recent wildfires that imperiled the Los Alamos National Laboratories and nuclear waste like uranium and plutonium that has been haphazardly buried on that property in New Mexico.

Johnson admitted there had been real “sloppiness” in years past when it came to the handling of nuclear waste. He said that during his stint as governor of the Land of Enchantment he saw to it that clean-up costs were slashed and efforts more efficient.

“I think we’ll look back and see our actions (involving nuclear materials) and say, ‘I can’t believe this is what we did. Los Alamos has made some real mistakes and we are paying for it,” he said.

Along those lines, a New Mexico reporter asked Johnson about concerns about radioactive contamination of the groundwater supply around Los Alamos following the wildfires and whether or not government agencies have a responsibility to report any and all information on such an important issue.

Johnson replied by saying that during his administration everything “was transparent” and that “we do monitor groundwater around Los Alamos as a result of slipshod disposal.”

Other topics like marijuana legalization and the intolerance in the GOP for Muslims and gay marriage were also discussed. Johnson said that while gay marriage should be a states issue, he said that he is close to considering the subject on the level of civil rights and potentially an issue that needs to be addressed at the federal level.

“Government should be in the civil union business,” he said. “Whether it’s heterosexual or a gay couple. Leave marriage to the church. That’s always been my position.”

Johnson emphasized that while the vast majority of his fellow Republican presidential candidates are vying for the “social conservative” vote, he, a pro-choice Republican, “is not one of those.”

And Johnson has made no bones about his support of marijuana legalization, having admitted to pot usage over the years, although he no longer partakes. He said that the establishment appears to want the status quo when it comes to the nation’s failed drug laws. Johnson is convinced that a majority of Republicans would support his efforts to reform the drug laws.

Additionally, he said the current battles among Mexican drug cartels along the southern border would largely end if marijuana was legalized. This, he said, is simply common sense and needs to be seriously considered as the violence spreads into border states like Texas and Arizona.

Border control was another issue raised by bloggers. Johnson said “rational steps” need to be taken to address the problem of illegal immigration. Coming from a border state, Johnson said that building a border fence or putting the National Guard “arm-in-arm” along the border is not going to solve this problem. Rather, he said, the federal government needs to “make it as easy as possible to allow an immigrant who wants to come here to get a work visa.”

Added Johnson: “I believe Mexicans would stand in line if the line was moving to get visas.”

Johnson continues to campaign, having spent time in early primary states like New Hampshire and South Carolina and moving on to Iowa for some appearances there, including a bike race. If anything, Gov. Johnson – who has summited Mount Everest and competed in multiple Iron Man competitions – has the energy and message to take his campaign well into 2012.

For more information on Gary Johnson’s presidential campaign and his positions on major issues go to

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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