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Libertarian speaks at IUSB

Sam Gans | Thursday, October 25, 2012

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson visited South Bend on Wednesday afternoon to address a political science class at Indiana University South Bend and to publicly endorse Joe Ruiz, the Libertarian candidate for Indiana’s 2nd District seat in the House of Representatives.

Johnson has campaigned on his desire to break a two-party system in American politics, and he reaffirmed this idea Wednesday. As a third-party candidate, he has little chance to win the election and trails his opponents, Democrat President Barack Obama and Republican former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, significantly in polls.

But he is hopeful enough voters will cast ballots for the Libertarian ticket to make him the 45th president of the United States.

“I’m just hoping that enough people waste their vote on me,” Johnson said. “If enough people do that, I’m the next President of the United States, and I’m making a vow that no one will be disappointed by actually electing a leader that will get up and lead what needs to be a raging debate and discussion in this country about all the issues that we face.”

The former two-term governor of New Mexico announced in April 2011 he was running for the presidency as a Republican before deciding to seek the Libertarian nomination in Dec. 2011. On May 5, he won the Libertarian Party’s official nomination.

Johnson said he can provide an honest assessment to college students of the national challenges that will impact their futures, unlike Obama and Romney.

“[I can bring] the truth that we are really in deep trouble in this country and to get out of all this deep trouble, it’s going to involve mutual sacrifice on the part of all of us,” Johnson said. “But we’ve got to engage in this, and right now, young people are being unfairly handed a bill that’s never going to get paid.”

Johnson said his plan to slash government programs, including Medicare, makes him a viable choice over Obama and Romney. As president, Johnson would repeal the Affordable Care Act and place more control over health care policies in the hands of individual state governments.

“Two weeks ago, Obama and Romney are arguing over who’s going to spend more money on Medicare, when Medicare has to be slashed,” Johnson said. “Medicare is a program that you and I put $30,000 into, and we receive a $100,000 benefit. Nothing about Medicare is sustainable. Nothing. And that is indicative of a lot of other government programs.”

Just two days after Obama and Romney debated foreign policy, Johnson said his policies abroad also distinguish him from the two front-runners.

“I think people are hungry to elect a leader, as opposed to the lesser of two evils,” Johnson said. “And talking about [the presidential debate] the other night, really what you come away with, we’re going to see ourselves in a continued state of war in this country. They’re arguing really over who’s going to pull the trigger first in these areas.

“When they talk about the [attack on the] Libyan Embassy, why did we have embassy personnel there in the first place? We’re presenting targets in an area that is looking for targets.”

Ruiz, from nearby Mishawaka, works with at-risk youth at the Family and Children’s Center. He too hopes to break the two-party system with his platform on the Libertarian ticket.

Johnson said Ruiz earned his endorsement over Republican Jackie Walorski and Democrat Brendan Mullen because the Libertarian candidate holds similar values to his own.

“Joe Ruiz would be talking about the same things that I’m talking about,” Johnson said. “I’m proud of Libertarians that are talking about these issues in the same way on a congressional level that I am at a national level, and Joe’s that congressional level.”

Ruiz said his standing as a third-party candidate means if he were elected, he would face more scrutiny to achieve promises made than either a Republican or a Democrat.

“I have a sincere interest in succeeding and I don’t think that either of my opponents would have that,” Ruiz said. “If either of them go along and they break the promises that they make, and two years from now, the Republicans or the Democrats, whoever wins, will just run another candidate who will make more promises that the people can either take or leave, and that potentially, historically, they would probably break, right?”

Like Johnson, Ruiz said this desire to succeed would lead him to keep his promises if elected.  

“Well, if I get elected, by people who believe in limited government philosophy, and I don’t do the things that I say I’m going to do, it’s potential that you’re never going to vote for a Libertarian again,” he said. “And so I have a sincere determination coming into this because I have way more to lose than either of my opponents.”