Gary Johnson has begun doing public events as part of his campaign for president, a new turn for what had been for months a strictly "earned media" (that is, being invited to talk on TV) run for president. Yesterday he spoke at Florida International University in Miami in front of "more than 500" people.
"We do believe that we occupy this big six-lane highway down the middle here, and our pitch is, you elect Trump, you elect Clinton, it's going to be more polarized than ever. And anybody that thinks otherwise is dreaming. So what if you elect a couple of Libertarians?" ….
Johnson told the FIU audience he's for ending "crony capitalism" and in favor of smaller government, abortion rights, term limits, the Second Amendment, ending the death penalty, legalizing marijuana, immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and ending U.S. support for "regime change" overseas.
Johnson blamed U.S. pursuit of regime change for fueling the rise of Islamic State terrorism. Asked by an audience member about fighting ISIS now, Johnson said, "we will see that job through."
If he had a "magic wand," Johnson said, he'd favor replacing the federal income tax with a national sales tax. But as president, he said he'd support any bill from Congress that simplifies and reduces taxes.
Despite his overall tax stance, Johnson said during the Univision taping that he's "open" to a tax aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
"You could implement a carbon tax that really isn't going to be revenue-generating as much as it is going to be self-regulating, that you would actually reduce carbon emission through a tax like that and ultimately reduce costs," Johnson said.
Amusing details from Johnson's attempt to hit famous Cuban-American restaurant Versailles; he and a media team were booted because the manager who was expecting him wasn't there to approve.
Some details, first of all on Cuba policy, always very important in Miami:
"I applaud Obama for what he's done," Johnson, a former Republican, said about the president's decision to lift some sanctions against the island. "I'm looking forward to visiting Cuba and I think it's long overdue. Free trade is really how we bring the world together."….
He shows he's good at the retail politics by praising the local favorite coffee:
"Oh my goodness, whoa," Johnson exclaimed after his first sip of the Miami staple. "Boy, this is one of life's greatest pleasures right here. If I lived here this would have to be part of the routine, oh my gosh."
He was bold enough to admit there are problems people might throw at him that he saw no clear presidential solution for, such as Venezuela's socialist crisis:
The Libertarian nominee didn't have a specific solution to Venezuela, beyond saying that he won't support the U.S. government getting involved in regime change.
"I don't want to speak to anything that I really don't understand and I don't understand what's happening in Venezuela or what we might be able to do to remedy that," Johnson said.
In other Johnson news:
• Ed Morrissey at Hot Air thinks that the Johnson/Weld ticket is more "no labels centrist" than hardcore libertarian, and notes Weld's tendency to give less libertarian answers to questions than Johnson, even when they are sitting next to each other.
• Johnson speaks to Fox Business in defense of more open immigration policy.
Elizabeth Nolan Brown reported earlier today on Johnson's statements against hate crime law made while in Miami.