Libertarian presidential candidate speaks on Sproul Plaza

Faith Buchanan/Staff
Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson speaks to students on Sproul during a meet and great and a rally.

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Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico and current libertarian presidential candidate, stopped by Upper Sproul Plaza Tuesday to speak with students and supporters about marijuana legalization, the national debt and LGBT rights.

Johnson spoke at a noontime rally on the steps in front of Sproul Hall to a crowd of about 150 to 200 people after talking personally with a handful of supporters for an hour. He is currently on a nationwide tour of at least 15 colleges nationwide. UC Berkeley is his seventh stop.

Johnson, who came out against the federal war on drugs in 1999, denounced the criminalization of marijuana.

“I’m the only candidate that wants to end the drug war now,” he said. “Let’s legalize marijuana now.”

Johnson was joined at the rally by Dale Sky Jones, president of Oaksterdam University, and Marilyn Singleton, an independent U.S. congressional candidate for California District 13, which includes Berkeley.

Many students in the audience expressed support for Johnson’s presidential run.

“I’m planning on voting for Gary Johnson in November,” said UC Berkeley freshman Shawn D’Souza. “I agree even more with Gary Johnson than I do with Ron Paul.”

Johnson, the two-term Republican governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, also touted his business and executive credentials and called for the end of American foreign intervention.

“There’s a big difference between myself and the other candidates,” Johnson said. “I’m the only candidate that doesn’t want to bomb Iran.”

He added that, if elected, he would immediately end the war in Afghanistan and bring back American servicemen and servicewomen as soon as possible.

Additionally, Johnson focused on the importance of balancing the federal budget and addressing government spending and taxation. He said that if elected, he would see to the elimination of the Internal Revenue Service and abolish the income tax and corporate tax. He would instead replace all those with a consumption tax called the FairTax.

He also said that he wished to bring military spending back to 2003 levels and that he would address spending on federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Campus senior Andrew Glidden, a volunteer from the campus group Students for Liberty, expressed similar support for Johnson based on the governor’s views on lessened government intervention in the economy and civil liberties.

Current Congressman and former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul spoke on campus April 5 and former independent candidate Buddy Roemer spoke on campus April 17.

Following Tuesday’s rally, Johnson flew to the University of Arizona to continue his tour.

Jaehak Yu is the lead city government reporter. Contact him at [email protected].

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Marilyn Singleton spoke about legalizing marijuana. In fact, she did not.