This weekend Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson paid Seattle a visit. The former governor of New Mexico drew an enthusiastic crowd of supporters at the Sheraton.
He teed off his stump speech in an unusual way.
Johnson: “I want to start off with an apology on this Aleppo gaffe … No, I do!”
Johnson told supporters he’s sorry for flunking an interview question about Aleppo, Syria, because avoiding entanglements and keeping American military members from going overseas is a central focus of his campaign. He says he led over Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in two recent polls of active duty military members.
Johnson: “I’d like to think it’s based on what I’ve been saying, which is stop support of regime change.”
Susan Szymanksi is an Air Force reservist based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. She says her colleagues have been touting Johnson’s candidacy on social media and it’s resonated for her too. She says neither Trump or Clinton is the lesser evil for her so she’s not worried about her vote helping one of them instead.
Szymanski: “Regardless of whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump were to gain the presidency, I think we’re in a bad place either way.”
In his speech, Johnson touted the sharing economy and entrepreneurs. He said he’d eliminate various federal agencies and let the free market rule in health care. And he had a special shout-out for Washington state:
“Washington state, you rock! You legalized marijuana, yes! Thank you! Yes!”
Supporter Benjamin Sutton was another Johnson supporter with military ties. He recently left the Marine Corps after helping guard embassies overseas. He says Libertarians are refreshing after the acrimony between Republicans and Democrats.
Sutton: “I think Libertarians, what makes them awesome, is we’re in the middle: socially liberal, fiscally conservative.”
The rally frequently erupted in chants of “Let Gary debate.” Johnson has not qualified for the upcoming presidential debates. But his relatively strong support in Washington state could help the Libertarian party attain major party status here after November.