Gary Johnson Speaks at Civil Rights Event In Philadelphia


PHILADELPHIA—Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson made a brief appeal Monday to a handful of people attending a civil rights event sponsored by the National Union of American Families at Independence Square in the heart of Philadelphia.

The former New Mexico governor delivered an abbreviated version of his stump speech that touched on his non-interventionist foreign policy, support for civil liberties, and dire view of the current fiscal climate. Johnson emphasized his opposition to the drug war, too.

Johnson, wearing jeans, a blazer, and a t-shirt with the peace sign on it, spoke over an hour later than scheduled due to some complications with the event.  

"I think that we need to balance the federal budget now. If we don't balance the federal budget now we are going to find ourselves without a country. I think we're going to find ourselves in the midst of a monetary collapse. A monetary collapse is, very simply, when the dollars we have in our pocket don't buy a thing," he said.

Johnson drew the strongest response from the crowd when he talked about his position on legalizing marijuana. 

"Let's end the drug war, let's legalize marijuana now. Let's stop the incarceration of 2.3 million people in this country. Let's stop with arresting 1.8 million people a year in this country," he said.

Johnson spoke for approximately four minutes before departing for New York City for a slate of media appearances. He was introduced by longtime civil rights activist Jesse Epps.

The issue of ballot access also came up. Johnson's goal of nationwide ballot access is not out of the question but his campaign was dealt a significant blow by the Oklahoma Supreme Court when it ruled that he could not be on the Americans Elect ballot line in that state.

"It's definitely not over. It's still in litigation," said Johnson campaign spokesman Joe Hunter.

If Johnson was bothered by the late start to the event he did not show it. He smiled, mugged for the camera, and shook hands with all who passed by.

"Hey, it is Constitution Day after all," he said while talking with people that stopped by the historic venue.

One passerby was puzzled as he was in search of the local Occupy Wall Street event.

"Hey do you guys know where Occupy is?" he asked.

"Ah, no," responded Johnson's impressively dapper body man Andrew Miller, a protégé of longtime Republican strategist Roger Stone.

Johnson is at the beginning of a multi-week nationwide tour of college campuses. He spoke earlier on Monday in the Philadelphia suburbs at West Chester University.

Here's video of his speech in Independence Square.