Republican Convention 2012

Paul-Fest Crowd Embraces Gary Johnson


Tampa – If Gary Johnson is going to come close to cracking single digits in November's presidential election the Libertarian Party nominee will need the backing of Ron Paul supporters like Sean Melancon, who watched Johnson speak yesterday afternoon at the Ron Paul Festival.

"I made the shift to Gary Johnson because Mitt Romney is way down on my list of people I'd want in charge of this country," said Melancon, 20, shortly after Johnson finished speaking before several hundred people.

"You know, Gary wants to keep Guantanamo open, but he's with Paul on like 98% of same stuff. But in the end, though, it doesn't really matter because the establishment will be elected, Obama or Romney. I would guess [a] majority of the people here are here to support Gary Johnson and libertarianism and liberty," he said.

Melancon's friend, Blake Magnus, is a fan of Paul too, and is backing Johnson in the general election. "Gary Johnson is the only option on the ballot who will make our voice heard on the issues we really care about," said Magnus, 20.

Magnus, a resident of South Carolina who joined the Paul movement when he was just 15 years old in 2008, thinks Paul supporters will get behind Johnson because of his foreign policy positions and his support for ending the Federal Reserve.

During his speech Johnson amplified the portion of his typical stump speech that focuses on the Federal Reserve while including several minutes on his relationship with Paul.

"I want you all to know that I am a Dr. Paul fan," Johnson said, pausing to allow for loud applauses and cheers.

"Ron Paul asked me for my endorsement in 2008 and I readily gave that endorsement. When I dropped out of the Republican primary I asked everyone who was going to vote for me to vote for Ron Paul. When asked in the last debate that I got to appear in who I would pair up with for a vice presidential candidate I said Ron Paul," he said, again, drawing overwhelming cheers from the crowd.

Then it got slightly awkward.

"I want to make this really clear: If I thought Ron Paul was going to get the nomination I would have not done this and I would have let him get the nomination and I would be along with you supporting Dr. Paul right now," he said, the crowd reacting slowly, but then eventually cheering and whistling as if was coaxed out of them.

The attitude among many of those present at Paul Fest was that there is still a very tiny possibility that Paul could win the nomination this week in Tampa. This is very much a Paul-first, Johnson-second crowd.  

"I'll probably vote for him as long Paul isn't a candidate. Until it's over I don't plan on giving up on it," said Colin Denney, 26, of Dallas, Texas.

Denney noted that Johnson agreed with Paul "eighty-five percent of the time" but he, like many of the people I talked to, mentioned Johnson's support for keeping the offshore detention center in Guantanamo Bay open.

When asked about this, Johnson said that he misspoke when he first made these comments.

"What I should have said was, we should close down Guantanamo for the practices of torture and detainment without being charged," he said, taking a breaking from signing autographs for a big crowd.

"Guantanamo does fill a gap that we actually need: a place to house enemy combatants offshore. But, we need to stop the practice of torture, stop the detainment without charge," he said.


After his speech I talked with Johnson about his relationship with Paul and how he was involved in the 2008 Paul presidential campaign. Here's a brief clip:

NEXT: Ex-GOP Florida Gov. Crist Endorses Obama

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  1. Those who believe in Ron Paul’s vision know that he has systematically been neutered by the Republican machine. For the sake of his son’s future in the party, Ron Paul has been silenced. He did stick to his guns right up to the end and he never endorsed Romney. Gary Johnson will keep the fight for liberty alive for us now, vocally right up to November 6th.

  2. Nice to see Gary out and about. If the Dr. Paul supporters want to hear such discussions continued during this election cycle, I believe it needs to be done through backing Gary. Romney is not our man to build the movement. Keeping the pressure up through a third party goes hand in hand with trying to change things from within a major party, in my estimation.

  3. Libertarians must unite and get Gary Johnson and the voice of liberty up in the national polling. In the spirit of Ron Paul this will get him on the debate stage with Romney and Obama. Americans who have not been enlightened will get an opportunity to hear the message. We are and have been being stripped of our liberties by George Bush and now by Obama. The current president ignores the constitution. Gary Johnson is the only person with the stones to turn this country around and save America. His voice must be heard in the debates. Call, email your friends, neighbors and relatives. Have them help raise Gary Johnson in the national polling.

  4. Blake Magnus

    That is an awesome name.

    1. My regards to Blake’s brother, Will. Tell him Romney’s responsometer is acting up, will you, Blake?

  5. It looks like some Paul supporters are going over to the Gary Johnson campaign. At this late date why are Ron Paul supporters are holding out hope that he will be the candidate? Wow. Instead of beating a dead elephant, why don’t those Paul supporters show they believe in the Liberty Agenda by giving their support to Gov. Gary Johnson? It’s the Liberty agenda we need to support and Gary Johnson is the candidate who will keep it going. Go to

  6. I, too, am a fan of Ron Paul but I cannot cast my vote for Romney. I’m going to vote for Gary Johnson because I support the Libertarian platform.

  7. Hey, Garrett, I’m the guy who had the Reason t-shirt at the Ron Paul USF event today.

    I’m actually working for the RNC (via many layers of subcontracting) as an entertainment industry arena rigger. I spent the last 5 weeks at the Ice Palace as well as a few other venues, so I haven’t had a lot of time to visit HyR, not that I do much besides lurk anyway.

    1. Wait a second, why are so many of Reason’s writers of Irish descent?!

      1. Damn fucking Celts!!!

        *looks at own name

        Oh wait…

  8. Paul-Fest Crowd Embraces Gary Johnson really?

    1. Video I have seen (two versions) recorded a surprisingly warm reception. I’m waiting to see what CSPAN puts online.

  9. Like the Black contingent of the Democratic Party, the libertarian component of the Republican Party has, for years, been unwilling to leave even when ignored or beaten up. Until they show a willingness to actually leave, the Republicans don’t have to take them seriously or even listen. Hopefully, after Ron Paul is once again thrown under the bus, this year libertarians associated with the Republican Party will actually grow a pair and walk away. That is the only way they will ever get respect from the Republicans.

    1. Pretty sure most libertarians did not vote for McCain in 2008.


    Ron Paul is nothing but a crypto-Nazi

    1. “If you have info on Ron Paul contact me” at my email address. Good god. I can assume then, that your references are not peer reviewed?

    2. Sources say ajweberman fucks sheep.

  11. Johnson should have changed the way he said it. “If Ron Paul somehow manages to win the Republican nomination, I would probably suspend my campaign to endorse him.” Since that’s got a likelihood of about zero percent, it helps him lock in one of his most critical constitutencies. The biggest fear for GJ is that Paultards (I use it half-affectionately — I don’t support mindless, unwavering support for any politician) will write in Paul instead of voting for him. They have the right to do that, but write-ins only get counted in a few states.

    1. I would like to see candidates that don’t operate on the fear of what the voters will do. Or wait, I DO want candidates to fear the voters, but only if it is antithesis to a cause I don’t support. Or, what was the point again?

  12. But…..the 2% that the “Paul majority” doesn’t agree with Gary on is more than enough for him to be considered “impure”…

  13. Do you want Gary Johnson to be your President?

  14. I love Ron Paul and Gary Johnson but I think a lot of their followers are delusional. Yes, Romney and Obama suck but that doesn’t mean we have to pretend that their suckiness means we have a chance. Admitting defeat isn’t fun but sometimes it is just honest. Not liking the fact that this was defeat doesn’t mean reality changes.

    If Johnson has a good showing and Romney loses republicans will be upset with Libertarians and blame them for everything. Now I know people like to believe Johnson will take equally from Obama and Romney but I am talking about perception. It is very unlikely that a good showing for Johnson will mean anything good for the libertarian movement in the long run, at least in terms national perception. Do people take the reform party seriously today?

    Now I know some people are already thinking that I am implying that we should vote for Romney. I’m not. I am suggesting that this was all for not and no matter what happens the libety movement will take a step backwards once the election is over. In other words, this has been and will be a defeat. We all know Johnson wont win so his candidacy is for the purpose of promoting the movement in the future. I think the opposite will happen. I think it is too late to do anything about it. And while many people will be disillusioned with the two parties, the net effect is to always further entrench them when these things are over.

    Should people vote for Johnson? Sure, but I just don’t see that it will matter much.

    1. If Gary Johnson got double digits in the votes (10% or more), you bet it would matter. Of course it’s either Obama or Romney in the White House, but significant numbers for Johnson tell the mainstream that a lot of people don’t like what’s going on, and furthermore, that they’re willing to do something about it.

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