BOSTON (CBS) — Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and vice presidential candidate Bill Weld‘s party platform calls for an end to government debt, no restrictions on personal relationships, repealing the income tax, abolishing the IRS, and introducing a free-market healthcare system. But Johnson has another pitch for the American people this election year.
“We’re not hypocrites,” he said. “We don’t say one thing and do another.”
The two candidates made the case for their campaign on CBS This Morning Wednesday, explaining their positions and what the Libertarian Party stands for, as well as positing themselves as an alternative to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
For Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts, it all goes back to one of the founding fathers.
“I think that government is best which governs least, I think that is our credo,” said Weld. “And the man who said that originally was Thomas Jefferson. We’re just a pair of Jeffersonian liberals.”
Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico, explained their mission as, “Keep government out of my bedroom, keep government out of my pocketbook.”
He thinks it is a message that would resonate with voters, as long as they can get it out in front of the electorate.
“If we’re in the presidential debates, 100 percent of people will know who we are,” said Johnson. “And we think we have the chance to run the table.”
But in order to participate in the presidential debates–the first of which is less than three weeks away–the pair have to meet a polling threshold of 15 percent. Johnson has said in the past that not being featured in the debates would mean the end of his campaign, but says their support is growing, citing a Tuesday Washington Post article that showed he and Weld had at least 15 percent of voters’ support in 15 states.
“It isn’t game over if we’re not in the first debate,” said Johnson. “but if we’re not in the debates, it is game over. I mean, there’s no way that you can win the presidential race without being in the debates.”
Weld said he and Johnson were both fiscally responsible and socially inclusive, a combination he claims neither Democrats nor Republicans can claim.
“We think we’ve got a six-lane highway right up the middle, and that represents the thinking of about 60 percent of the voters,” he said.
When Weld was governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997, he was a Republican. He was asked Wednesday if he had officially left the party.
“Yes I have, and I told the Libertarians that I would never return,” said Weld. “It doesn’t mean I’m not friendly, but it means I get to ask, out loud, ‘Why would any Republican vote for Donald Trump?’ He’s anti-free trade, he’s pro entitlements, he’s terrible on the budget, he’s unreliable.”
On immigration, Johnson said he’d be the opposite of Trump. Rather than build a border wall, he says he wants to make it easier for people to come to the United States. He also wants the estimated 11 million undocumented workers already here to get work visas, and for the work visa process to include a background check and social security card.
“Set up an easy way for those to come into the door and get a work visa, as long as they’ve been law-abiding,” said Johnson.
Weld said the large number of undocumented immigrants is a labor force issue, and said that Johnson, as a former governor of a southwestern state, knows the issue better than anyone.
“Mr. Trump has planted this canard in the public consciousness that all 11 million undocumented workers are chomping at the bit to become citizens, that’s just not true.”
Weld said those already here illegally shouldn’t be granted citizenship, but they should be added into the workforce officially so they can pay taxes.
“Get them in the system and out of the shadows,” said Weld.
Johnson has said he wants to abolish the IRS and replace it with a federal consumption tax–a tax on what people spend, as opposed to what they earn–but said he and Weld would be happy with far less dramatic moves.
“You can count on us to support any initiative out of Congress that’s going to lower taxes, that’s going to simplify taxes,” said Johnson. “But, if I could wave a magic wand, I would eliminate income tax, I would eliminate corporate tax, and replace it with one federal consumption tax.”
Faced with criticism that the consumption tax is unfair, he added that the tax would include everyone getting a check for $200 that would allow them to pay that tax to the poverty level.
The two said they’re enjoying the campaign while trying to reach that 15 percent cutoff–especially Weld.
“This is my brier patch,” said Weld. “I’m so grateful to Gary for getting me into this.”