Gary Johnson at Fox News GOP debate

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson took part in a Republican Presidential Debate Wednesday night and touted his idea of fiscal responsibilty and small government.
“Throwing out the entire federal tax system and replacing it with a consumption tax – the fair tax, which would absolutely reboot the American economy because it does away with the corporate tax to create tens of millions of jobs in this country” – said Johnson.
It was the first debate Johnson participated in since May.
Johnson pledged to submit a balanced federal budget by 2013 and vowed to veto any deficit spending legislation.
“I think the biggest threat to our national security is the the fact that we’re bankrupt so I am promising to submit a balance budget to congress in the year 2013 and included in that is a 43% in military spending” – said Johnson.
He didn’t speak often but did have some memorable lines.
At one point he said his neighbor’s dogs had created more, “shovel-ready jobs,” than Barack Obama. The line drew laughter from the audience and the other candidates on stage.
However, Johnson seemed to disappear by the end of the debate with very little screen time.
After the debate Johnson’s campaign released a statement that said he seperated himself from the other candidates.
“Tonight, a great many people had their first opportunity to see that there is a candidate who will actually focus like a laser on the task of reducing government, eliminating deficits and freeing the economy to create real jobs” – the statement said. “From individual liberties to drug policy to immigration, too often the Republican field has sounded like a chorus rather than honest dialogue.”

Gary Johnson at Fox News GOP debate
Gary Johnson.

The presidential debate last night featured a lot of moments that would not come as a surprise to anyone who has watched previous debates. Newt Gingrich wagged his finger at the moderators, Rick Perry’s book was critiqued, Mitt Romney trotted out all 5 Ds of dodgeball in an attempt to avoid discussing Romneycare, and there was, of course, an awkward middle-aged white man moment, this time courtesy of Jon Huntsman, who at the end of the debate reached out to slap hands with Herman Cain. But there was one new wrinkle in the debate, it was the first time Gary Johnson, the former Governor of New Mexico, participated.
Johnson, despite being a relatively successful two term governor has been given short shrift so far. As a libertarian, albeit a socially liberal one, he’s been dismissed by pundits. If Jon Huntsman is a reporter’s idealized version of Mitt Romney, Johnson has been brushed aside as an idealized Ron Paul. But despite opposition from the Florida Republican Party, which was one of the sponsors of the debate, this pro-choice, pro-pot, and anti-government candidate finally got a chance to participate.
Of the nine contenders on the stage, Johnson was clearly the least rehearsed. However, he was prepared for the limited screen time he got, showing strong message discipline in answering every question by first making clear he would balance the budget his first year in office and slash federal spending. He even got the biggest laugh line of the night by jesting: “My next-door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this president.”
Johnson’s presence was a refreshing change of pace. He is the only candidate who seems to capture the growing libertarian impulse among many people in the country – unlike Ron Paul, who is socially conservative and whose libertarian instincts seem to be by way of the John Birch Society. This is not to mention that, in a primary where candidates make much of business experience, he is probably the only candidate who both built a business from scratch and actually governed a state. This is not to dismiss Romney’s experience, but a governor’s son with dual degrees from Harvard Law and Harvard Business School starts with certain advantages that a middle class graduate of the University of New Mexico does not possess.

Are you tired of Republican debates yet? At tonight’s Fox/Google-sponsored GOP showdown in Orlando, Texas Gov. Rick Perry sure acted like he was. The man was clearly in need of some wake-up juice. He yawned. He pondered. He talked slow—even for Rick Perry. By the end of the debate, he was trying to figure out how to ‘mate’ Herman Cain with Newt Gingrich for his veep slot. Who’s ready for Rick Perry-Hernewt Caingritch in 2012?
Don’t think that match-up has a catchy enough ring to it? How about Gary Johnson-Ron Paul? The former New Mexico governor and multi-instance Reason feature subject, asked to quickly pick his running mate from the crew on stage, picked Dr. No. He also proposed balancing the budget by cutting federal spending by 43 percent (!) more or less immediately, and delivered the night’s most memorable one-liner – “My next door neighbor’s dogs have created more shovel ready jobs that this administration.” There is no such thing as shovel ready!
Speaking of dogs, that’s who this debate was for. Literally. The Fox News anchors who moderated the showdown announced early on that they’d changed the time’s-up sound from the last debate after multiple complaints that the previous ding sounded too much like a doorbell—and was freaking out viewers’ puppies.
Meanwhile, much of the evening’s entertainment revolved around the fight between Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, both whom were vying to be the GOP presidential field’s top dog.
With a bit of moderator prodding, they tussled on Social Security, on ObamaCare, on their flip-flops, and their respective books—which may not be entirely fair, given that Mitt Romney seems to have read Rick Perry’s book, while it’s not clear that Perry has.
The biggest squabble between the two was probably about immigration. When Romney went after the Texas governor’s record—in particular, his decision to allow immigrant children to attend state schools at in-state tuition rates—Perry repeated his call for ‘boots on the ground’ at the border. Of the two, he was the immigration moderate.
There were a handful of unexpected moments scattered throughout the night—Michelle Bachmann responding to a follow-up tax question by saying that Americans have a right to keep every dollar they earn, but also noting that ‘obviously’ we need to collect revenue to run the government; Jon Huntsman delivering a lengthy disquisition on his dislike of green energy subsidies…only to finish by noting that: “if there were a way to get the ball rolling” on alternative energy, he would be for it.

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