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Libertarian candidate rallies Tempe students

Libertarian presidential candidate and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson said at a Tempe campus rally Wednesday that today’spolitical policies put young people at a disadvantage and threaten their chances for a successful future.

“I would be in a state of revolt if I were a young person,” Johnson said in an interview before his speech.

A crowd of about 100 people gathered on Hayden Lawn to hear Johnson speak.

He is touring 40 college campuses across the nation in an effort to connect and engage young voters.

“Young people right now are getting screwed,” Johnson said.  “I’m going to retire, (and) I’m going to have health care.  You’re never going to retire, (and) you’re not going to have health care.”

Arizona was considered a swing state at the start of the campaign season, and President Barack Obama has shown slight gains in the state in the past few weeks.

'People say you're wasting your vote if you vote for me. You're not,' Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson said during his speech on Hayden Lawn Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Cameron Tattle)

According to polls published by The Huffington Post, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has more than 49 percent of Arizona’s likely voters on his side compared to Obama’s 43.8 percent.

Neither campaign has visited the state in recent months, both spending much of their time and money in swing states like Ohio and Florida.

A recent Reason-Rupe poll published by, an online right- and left-wing alternative publication, found that Johnson and his running mate, former Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray, have 6 percent of the vote nationally.

Johnson said he is encouraged by these numbers and disagrees with common arguments that voting for a third party candidate is a waste of time.

Johnson said in an interview that he is not the third choice in the presidential race, but the only choice.

“We are zombies to the two-party system,” Johnson said.

During the rally, Johnson focused on the differences between his policies and those of Obama and Mitt Romney.

Johnson said he is the only candidate who believes in legalizing marijuana.

He said border violence is caused by the “prohibition phenomena.” If marijuana is legal, the violence would stop, he said.

Johnson wants to eliminate the income tax and corporate tax to replace them with a Fair Tax, a national sales tax that would treat everyone equally.

Johnson said if elected he would pull American troops from Afghanistan immediately.

Both Romney and Obama are the wrong choice for change in the U.S., Johnson said.

“Speaking with a broad brush, I think most Americans are fiscally conservative and socially accepting,” he said.

Journalism freshman Alex Coleman, who attended the rally, said she is drawn to the Libertarian party because she is fiscally conservative but socially liberal on issues such as gay marriage.

“Government should not be involved in people’s lives,” Coleman said.

Coleman said she does not think Johnson will win in November, but plans to vote for him anyway.

“If everyone thinks I’m wasting my vote, no one’s going to vote, and it’s never going to get the message across that a third party candidate should be in office,” Coleman said.  “In a few more elections, a candidate like him could have a chance.”

Psychology post-baccalaureate researcher Tyler Miller said he was excited about the energy behind the Libertarian movement on campus, which he said has doubled in the last year or two.

“Turning the country around and getting it to wake up is a very slow process,” Miller said.  “I’m really hopeful though that young people are turning around.”

Also speaking at the rally were former California Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr., Students for Liberty President Carlos Alfaro, American Academy of Constitutional Education Director Shane Krauser, Arizona Dream Act Coalition President Dulce Matuz and local libertarian activist Andrea Garcia.


Reach the reporter at or follow her on Twitter at @tessnoel


Note: Carlos Alfaro, who spoke at the event, is a State Press employee. He was not involved with the reporting or writing of this article.

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