By Shelby Mullis
Thirteen minutes was all it took for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson to deliver his campaign message Monday on why he thinks America’s mayors should stand with him this election season.
Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico, accepted the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ invitation to speak at this year’s gathering.
“So, is this like the craziest political election that you’ve ever seen?” Johnson joked. “Here’s how crazy it is: I might be the next president of the United States.”
Before going into a list of things he plans to do as president, Johnson defined the term ‘libertarian’ to the audience, calling it a party of people who are “fiscally conservative, but socially we don’t give a damn as long as you don’t force it on us.”
Chris Robinson, of Cincinnati, Ohio, drove to the Hoosier state Monday morning to see Johnson speak, and this wasn’t his first time seeing the presidential candidate.
“He has a vision for America and we’re here to support him and that vision for America,” Robinson said. “He’s a salt-of-the-Earth kind of guy. He believes in America, believes in the vision he has that we are fiscally responsible and conservative and socially tolerant. He’s a great guy — great to talk to. He actually cares and listens. He takes advice and surrounds himself with great people that are going to make America what it used to be.”
Speaking on issues from marriage equality to free markets, Johnson touched on one topic receiving an extra amount of national attention this month, following controversial comments made by presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump — immigration.
“I think we should embrace immigration,” Johnson said. “We are a country of immigrants. The notion of deporting 11 million undocumented workers, I think, is crazy. They are not taking jobs that U.S. citizens want. They are absolutely law-abiding — statistically committing less crime than U.S. citizens. Building a fence across the border, also I think, is misinformed.”
The Libertarian candidate spent most of his time on stage looking at the national picture but he did take some time to speak directly to the mayors in attendance.
“Thank you for an invite to be here and to talk with you all,” Johnson said. “You all are frontline, you’re front and center. You guys rock. You make it happen. You are the laboratories. I’m going to make you a pledge as president of the United States, and that is, if I’m elected president of the United States, I’m going to end the imperial presidency. I will not snarl your cities when I come to town and travel.”
All 2016 presidential candidates were invited to speak in Indianapolis at this year’s U.S. Conference of Mayors. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton spoke at the conference Sunday. Trump did not appear at the conference.